Saturday, July 4, 2009

Grilling on July Fourth: Burgers, Steaks, Church Bells, Birdsongs, and a Really Hot Handle

I got to grill twice today: burgers at noon and steak for supper. I got the steaks overly-done, even by my standards: I'll get back to that.

Both sessions were accompanied by birdsongs and church bells: Our Lady of the Angels church is two blocks north, on the other side of the street, so I heard the noon and five o'clock peals clearly.

Time passes, and with it comes change. For years, I'd hear a dog about a block away, east and a bit north, howl in response to the bells. He - or she - was quite musical, in a canine way. That doesn't happen now. I suppose the owner may have moved, or the dog is gone.

A mourning dove's call is one of the few birdsongs I recognize. There was one vocalizing when I was fixing the steaks.

Crunchy Steaks and Other Learning Experiences

I go through the same process each time the seasons change: as summer heat settles in, I re-learn how to use a grill that's already part-way to the heat needed to grill meat. And, in the process, come pretty close to reducing at least one meal to briquettes.

Today's supper was a case in point. The grill had been up to normal (for me) grilling temperature at noon, and had at most cooled down to the 79 degrees I was enjoying. After five minutes, I flipped the steaks - and found they were already black in a few places. I learned something else, too: I'm getting to that.

Long story cut short, my wife quite properly gave me part of the crunchiest steak of the lot. It was pretty good, actually: the burned-black meat was strictly on the surface, and they were done evenly all the way through. I'll remember to turn down the heat a bit more and earlier, next time.

This winter, I'll probably go through the same learning experience, in reverse.
Singed Hair and the Spatula as a Lid-Shutting Tool
The hair on my left forearm is growing back nicely, after a little incident recently involving the grill and tongues of flame. The lid of our current grill swings rather far back. When open, the distance between the front of the grill and the handle suggests to me that whoever designed the thing must have been closer to seven feet tall, than six.

That experience encouraged me to re-think my approach to opening and closing the grill. The happy thought struck me that, while I needed to reach around the grill to open the lid, I could use the spatula as an extension of my arm when reaching for the handle. Now, I often use the edge of the spatula that's closest to the handle to hook one of the supports for the lid's handle. That keeps my arm further from the fire: and a bit safer.
Oven Mitts aren't Just for Ovens
Today, I learned something else: the handle can get very hot, very fast, under the right conditions. Like grilling steaks for supper, after using the grill at noon.

When I lifted the lid - or, rather, started to lift it - to flip the steaks the first time, I got the lid about three inches up before my fingers lodged a formal complaint. That handle was hot!

#1 daughter was out with me, giving her rabbit, Giol, an outing, and went in for an oven mitt. That solved the hot handle issue quite neatly.

Tomorrow, I hope to do the same thing: grill, I mean, not zap the steaks and nearly burn my fingers.

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