Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Next Week

This weekend's grilling went better than last, in a way. A week ago yesterday, the grill's flames reached out and touched someone: me. There's more over at "Through One Dad's Eye."

I see that I've been neglecting this blog. Time to stop that.

This weekend was a sort of milestone in this year's grilling. We had cat-track snow very early yesterday. Most of it was gone by noon, apart from diehard patches on the north side of things.

That patch of snow on the grill didn't cause any problems, but the wind did.

I used up almost a half-dozen matches, getting the fire going. Then, I noticed flames getting blown out the bottom of the grill. That got my attention, because I was downwind of the fire. I don't thing that the grill is out to get me, but there does seem to be a pattern here.

My wife said that we may need a new grill. She could be right.

Today's grilling went better, in a way. I didn't need to defend myself against the grill, but the burgers came about a bit more well-done than I intended.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Sizzle of the Grill, the Roar of the Race Track

Another weekend of grilling lunch is passing by.

This afternoon, I enjoyed the blue sky, warm sun, the sizzle of burgers on the grill, and the roar from the racetrack, south of the Interstate.

A pleasant, serene, moment in my life here in small town America.

I think I've got the hang of grilling burgers without incinerating them. And, this week, I did it without supervision.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Another Day, Another Burger

Several of them, actually. Not much to report, except that when today's burgers were done, they were more done than yesterday's.

Our #1 daughter, our son, and our neighbor were out at one point or another during the process. I suppose it would unseemly to blame them for distracting me.

Nice, simple burgers are nice, but I'm looking forward to trying something exotic, like last Monday's shish kebabs. "Exotic" being a relative term, of course.

Cool Weather, Hot Grill, Brown Burgers

Not bad at all. I grilled lunch today, before the drizzles started, and didn't incinerate the burgers.

And without supervision! Much as I like the company of our #2 daughter, it's nice to know - and have others know - that it wasn't her influence that kept me from converting burger patties to imitation hockey pucks.

Not the greatest of accomplishments, but an accomplishment nonetheless.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My First Shish Kebab

Seen against the vast backdrop of history; compared to the rise and fall of empires; placed beside such cultural landmarks as the founding of Troy, the signing of the Magna Carta, and the Coolidge Administration's Revenue Act of 1924; the grilling of a shish kebab in our back yard may seem trivial.

For me, however, it stands as a great watershed in the history of my grilling. For today I prepared a meal on the grill which involved more than mere flipping of meat.

I can't take complete credit. It was my wife's idea. She prepared the skewers, using meat, carrots chunks, and pieces of potato which she had heated in the microwave. She also provided the vegetable oil, and told me to wipe it on the skewers, to prevent the food from getting overly dry.

Nonetheless, it was I who stood out there by the grill, carefully observing, swabbing, and turning the skewers.

For a first attempt, it came out very well.

I was so enthused by this attempt, that I made a video. It's been mercifully edited down to 12 or so minutes. The muttering you hear is me. I didn't think to try narrating the thing until rather late in the game.

Without further ado: "My First Shish Kebab." (This link will send you to the video, as presented on my Central Minnesota Theater, a small but growing collection of online videos.)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Grilling, Labor Day Weekend, and Family

Our second daughter was here part of Friday and Saturday, and kept me company while grilling yesterday. Unlike previous daughter-supervised grilling episodes, yesterday the burgers came out crispy. But not extra-crispy.

# two daughter went back to college yesterday afternoon, leaving me to my own devices today. Our #1 daughter was with me while I grilled, but her presence doesn't have the supervisory qualities of #2's.

And the burgers came out more optimally than yesterday's.

Is it possible? Can it be that I have within me the capacity for better grilling?

Looks like!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Rare Event: Weekday Grilling

"Well done!" I thought, when my wife asked me to grill burgers for the evening meal today. I'd dropped the suggestion recently, in hopes that her taste for grilled foods, and the relative ease with which such meals are prepared, would overcome her habitual 7-day cycle meal planning.

The triggering event today was scheduling. Our eldest daughter has a job, and is looking for an apartment in the town where the job is. She and my wife are away now, checking out one of the possibilities.

Standing at the familiar grill, shaded by the garage rather than basking in a noonday sun, was a strange, yet pleasant experience.

And, by producing burgers of a quality equal to those grilled under the supervision of our second-oldest daughter, I have demonstrated that I, too, possess the power of char-less grilling!


Sorry about that!

This blog was unavailable for at least an hour this morning.

Since you're reading this, you've come back to try accessing it again: thank you for your patience!

Google seems to have been doing some maintenance: and about time! My service has been a bit 'iffy' for some time.

I'll be back with a 'real' post as soon as I can.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Grilling lunch today was pretty much like yesterday's, with less rain and more wind.

It took me three tries to get grill lit.

Once again, our second-oldest daughter kept me company, and once again, the burgers came out nicely brown, without any charred spots.

Her presence and above-average outcomes on the grill may related after all.

Perhaps I can learn how she determined when to flip the burgers. ;)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hamburger, Rain, and Sizzleberries

Despite a drizzle with pretensions of being rain, I was out grilling lunch today. Our second-oldest daughter kept me company, sensibly staying in the shelter of the garage and keeping an eye on me through an open door.

She also provided me with an umbrella. Quite sensible of her.

The hamburgers came out very well: brown all the way through, and without that crunchy crust that so few people appreciate.

Granted, she did remind me to flip them once or twice, and observed that they were done just before I would have noticed: but surely it's possible that her presence and tasty burgers is a mere coincidence?

The light rain gave me an opportunity to observe and enjoy sizzleberries. That's a word I think I made up, to describe those tiny, sizzling, droplets of water that form when rain (or any drop of water) falls on a very hot, flat surface.

It's the steam, of course, generated each time a droplet hits the surface, that makes them bounce up, falling to make another burst of steam, and makes the sizzling sound.

Science aside, the sizzle and the delightfully frantic dancing droplets are fun to watch. That's me in the picture, making sizzleberries.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Skill, Luck, or Supervision? You decide.

Our second-oldest daughter came out to keep me company while I grilled lunch today. I don't know if her decision had anything to do with yesterday's loud FOOMP! I prefer to believe that she wanted to spend some time with her dad.

She reminded me, at least twice, that the burgers seemed to be ready to flip.

By coincidence, today's burgers were unusually nicely done: grilled all the way through, juicy, and not carbonized.

My wife attributes this to our daughter's supervision.

She may be right.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fire Safety, or A Tale of Two Matches

This may not be "substantive," but I'll post it anyway.

I grilled this evening, instead of around noon, thanks to some mis-communication between my wife and our oldest daughter.

That was a good thing, I think, since this way I grilled in the shade, and the temperature was a little lower.

Thanks, possibly, to getting very little sleep last night, I pulled a really stupid stunt while lighting the grill. I lit a match, dropped it near the gas manifold, and turned the valve. Then I noticed that the match had gone out.

So far, not stupid.

Here comes the dumb part: I left the gas running, got out another match, and dropped it next to the first. I heard, felt and saw the dull-orange FOOMP! of the collected propane igniting.

I am not doing that again. Not soon, anyway. And not intentionally.

I could belabor the point, but you know this already: Stunts like that belong in the old slapstick movies, not contemporary grilling.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Easy Griller: a Reality Check

This is my thirteenth post, I think. Time to slow down and think a little.

If you've been following all of this blog's posts, you've noticed that I've had fun with them, but haven't offered much in the line of solid 'how to' content.

That's partly because I created this blog in large part to reflect, and share, the fun I have, grilling.

I do have a 'serious' grilling site, also called Easy Griller ( ). Parts of it may be useful, some were intended to be amusing, and most of it is, in my opinion, a crashing bore.

All that's going to change now. The boring part, I mean. I don't plan to make Easy Griller the website useless and unamusing: although I suppose that could happen.

What this means is that I'm going to ease back on posting to this blog, and devote a bit more time to Easy Griller, the website.

I'll post here from time to time, when I've got something substantive to say.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Let Us Sing of Grilling

I found some verse, and a few comments, that I wrote about two years ago.

This is as good a time as any to release them again.

Let Us Sing of Grilling

This may be either spoken, or sung to the tune Let it Snow.

It is my intention in this poem to express the dedication, the resolve, and the lack of sensitivity to cold, or maybe just sense, which so often has led me to the grill, amid knee-deep snowdrifts.


Oh, the weather outside is chilling,
But I gotta keep on grilling.
And though it sounds strange, I still
Love to grill, love to grill, love to grill.
When they're skiing on down the hill,
And the lawn disappears under snow,
I'll be out there beside my grill,
Though winds of a blizzard may blow!
Whether summer brings sun or showers,
You could bet your bottom dollars:
When the temperatures rise, I still
Love to grill, love to grill, love to grill!

Copyright © 2005 Brian H. Gill

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sunday: Not So Much About Grilling, as About the Experience of Grilling

I had another good time this noon, grilling hamburger patties for the family. Sometimes one of the kids hangs out with me, but today I had the yard to myself.

That's not quite correct. One of the things I like about grilling, other than the grilling itself, is the time it gives me outside, with nothing to do but wait until it's time to check the burgers again.

Lighting the grill, placing the burgers, and waiting for them to be ready to flip went very routinely.

There's a big willow behind a shed, about in the middle of the back yard. A recent windstorm cracked a branch, about fifteen feet (four or five meters) long, but didn't quite break it off.

One of the burger patties was slower to heat than the others, as usual. The exact location of the cool spot varies, with wind speed and direction, and probably other factors, too.

Squirrels have used hollows in the tree as nests over the years. I think we have chickadees, too, this year. I'm no ornithologist, but that's what they look like. Also a smallish woodpecker.

I moved the cooler burger to one of today's hot spots during the first flip.

The woodpecker was doing a percussion solo on the dead branch. I think the chickadees were following the woodpecker, picking out whatever the larger bird left. One of the chickadees flew a worm-shaped thing over to nearby branch and deposited it. There's probably a nest there.

Three flips of the burgers later, I had a stack of sputtering, steaming patties to take inside. Shutting off the grill and closing the value on the LP gas tank took less than a minute, and then I was headed inside with the main part of today's lunch.

What does all this have to do with grilling? Very little, directly.

Today's post does give, however, one example of the experience of grilling on a summer day.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Grilling Saturday's Lunch: a Fine Experience

One of these times, I'll discuss the more 'practical' side of grilling.

Today's post is about the experience of grilling.

The weekend, at last!

I'd grill every day of the week, but my wife seems to think the family should have a varied diet. She's probably right.

The montage shows the process of grilling today's lunch.

Starting with a few frozen slabs of chopped meat on the grill, the photos show the slow steps which begin a grilling session. At first there seems to be no change at all as, lid lowered to hold heat, I wait for some visible change. At last, quick inspections show juices rising out of the nascent burgers.

The tempo picks up as a fiery metamorphosis overwhelms the meat. Flipping the burgers to ensure even grilling, I add the hot dog.

Finally, the burgers and the lone hot dog are ready. Time to eat!

Winter: Best Grilling Season of All?

Grilling is often regarded as a summer activity, with spillover into spring and autumn. For most, this is true. Summer is by far the most popular season for grilling.

That is understandable: Summer temperatures favor outdoor activities such as grilling; A long tradition has grown up in America around Independence Day burgers, and summer picnics where burger briquettes and mosquitoes are the order of the day; And, for so many, grilling is viewed as a sort of incidental activity, a hobby at most.

For one who treads the path of Guriru-do, however, winter is perhaps the best season of all in which to grill. For it is in winter that the grill can best be perceived for what it is: a source of heat, a dwelling for fire, a forge on which meat patties and frozen wieners may be transformed into delicious burgers and hot dogs.

Besides, here in Minnesota, frozen meat stays frozen when you leave it outdoors in the winter: You may get frostbite, but there's no danger of spoilage!

Personally, I enjoy the solitude of winter grilling, the stark beauty of snow-covered yards, the crystal-clear air that's so cold, all the water has been frozen out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tips for the Winter Griller

Dress appropriately. Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops, and umbrella hat may be fine for August, but in February it's more than a fashion faux pas. By the time your burgers are done, you'll feel like your femurs froze.

Once you have a good, heavy coat, pants, boots and gloves on, remember: if you can't feel cold through your clothes, you can't feel heat either. Be careful how close you get to the grill, so you don't become griller flambé.

I don't recommend grilling in whiteout conditions, but wind doesn't need to be a big problem. A well-placed saucer sled, either held by an obliging family member or stuck in a convenient snowbank, often provides enough protection to not only light a match, but keep the grill's fire from being blown out.

A word of caution, though: particularly if you are using a snowbank to secure the saucer sled. Make sure that the sled is held firmly in place, so that it does not become airborne in a gust. Especially while grilling, you don't want to be hit by a flying saucer!

Allow more time for your meat to get done. Grilling times will increase when frostbite replaces heatstroke as a weather-related health risk.

Finally: have fun!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Grilling: a Four-Season Pursuit

Outdoor grilling: that's just for summer and maybe fall, right?

Especially in places like Minnesota, where water becomes a mineral for several months each year, and National Guard arctic maneuvers have been canceled, due to inclement weather.

For the casual griller, perhaps.

For one dedicated to Guriru-do, all seasons are one. There is not the griller, the grill, the burgers, and the weather. There is only the grilling.

Grilling in the Rain With the Umbellybrella

I was outside, grilling in the rain last fall. The visiting daughter kept me company, wisely standing in a sheltering doorway. She loaned me her umbrella. I found out that I could tuck it down the neck of my jacket, getting shelter from the umbrella while keeping both hands free.

I dubbed it an umbellybrella: a grilling accessory ideal for those who trill in the rain, and don't care how they look.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grilling as an Exercise in Multiculturalism

In grilling, as in any activity, a sense of proportion and balance is important.

Balance between a fire that's too hot and one that's not hot enough.

Balance between leaving a burger with a frozen core, and creating a burger briquette.

Balance between regarding the grilling of hamburger patties as a mere heating of meat, and contemplating the metaphysics of existential phenomena.

On June 10 of last year, I nearly incinerated one side of a hamburger patty. That part of the cosmos, which had been a hamburger patty, was out of balance.

Observing a brief moment of silence, contemplating the burger briquette, I forged ahead and saw that day's grilling through to the end.

As I recall, my wife let me have the burned burger. I like burgers ultra-crisp.

Later, recognizing that in a global culture there are many ways of dealing with such unexpected events as a burger's evolution from meat patty to charred mini-discus, I pondered how I might at once celebrate a multi-cultural perspective, contemplate a burned hamburger as a metaphor for life, and have some fun.

Here's what I came up with:

While Grilling on a Weekend

Flipping one too late,
I see darkness on a burger's bottom:
grilled not wisely, but too well

The Most Important Grilling Tool: Common Sense

Some excellent advice for the outdoor griller:
  • Grill outside - carbon monoxide is bad for your health
  • Find what you need to light the fire before turning on the gas
  • If your LP gas cylinder doesn't have an OPD (Overfilling Prevention Device), get a new cylinder
  • If your LP gas cylinder is dented, rusty, or cracked, get a new cylinder
  • When you're through grilling, shut the LP gas cylinder's valve
    (Don't overdo it: apply as much pressure as you would with a water faucet)
  • Don't overfill: if the cylinder is rated as a 20 pound cylinder, it holds 20 pouds
  • When lighting the grill, leave the top open - that prevents gas buildup and 'flash' that can be dramatic but unpleasant
So far, I've given common sense safety tips. Now, in the spirit of stupid safety signs, here is advice for those who need warnings like "Caution! Coffee May Be Hot!" on their coffee cups.
  • Do not hold your face over the grill when lighting the fire
  • Do not sit on a lighted grill
  • Do not use a filled LP gas cylinder as a beach ball
  • Do not attempt to use an LP gas cylinder as a cigarette lighter
  • Do not use an LP gas cylinder as a bug bomb
  • Do not use liquid propane as a cleaning agent
  • Remember: a spatula is not a dental hygiene tool
Seriously, be sensible, treat LP gas with respect, and have fun grilling.

Monday, July 30, 2007

From Marshmallow Incinerator to Outdoor Griller

Or, A Griller is Born
Or, Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: and a Well-Grilled Burger

Aside from the occasional hamburger flambé and incinerated marshmallow, grilling was not a part of my formative years. So my wife was surprised that, when we finally got an outdoor grill, the challenge was not so much inducing me to prepare the occasional meal, as keeping me inside during severe weather warnings.

My family and I got along without a grill for many years. At first, it was an out-of-reach luxury. Our budget dictated a bargain priced apartment. There wasn't room in either for an outdoor grill.

Later, our sense of fiscal responsibility got in the way. A grill, even a small one, is not cheap. And, there was always something that we needed more. There still is, but that's a whole different topic.

One day, for reasons which I still do not fully understand, my wife decided that it was time for the family to relive her memories of hamburgers grilled in the back yard. We took a look at what was available locally, and purchased what looked like a good starter grill.

I remember my early days of grilling when, user's manual nearby, I first opened the valve and ignited the escaping gas. Hearing a soft "foof" and not singeing a single hair on my hand was a satisfying experience. Then, placing hamburger patties on metal frame and carefully timing their exposure on each side, I removed meaty disks which not only recognizable, but fit for human consumption.

In fact, the hamburgers tasted pretty good. That was the start of my life as a year-round weekend griller.

With a little practice, I learned how to grill burgers with brown-verging-on-black outsides, brown insides, and that grilled taste that only comes from hood-down grilling on a veteran grill.

Preparing food that occasionally transcends such concepts as "edible" and soars into the realms of "tasty" or even "delicious" still fills me with a warm glow.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Easy Griller Starts Medium-Well

I've enjoyed grilling for years. Not as a gourmet griller, one of those fellows with racks of seasonings and digital rotisseries.

I like to grill hamburgers or hamburgers and a hot dog on the weekends, with the occasional chicken.

Although simple grilling will probably always be my favorite, sooner or later I'll try something more exotic, like grilled corn.