Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let's Hear it for Simple!

My wife had me re-fill the LP tank for our grill today, so that I could grill potatoes.

Getting the tank filled was more work than the grilling.

My wife had wrapped the potatoes in metal foil, and carried the lot out to the grill wrapped in a towel. I followed, set the potatoes in two rows, lit the grill, made sure the flame was stable, closed the lid and noted the time.

I'd carried a lawn chair over, and had a book and some notebooks out with me.

A half hour later, I turned the potatoes over. I'd had the flames at the lowest setting, since this new grill runs hotter than our old one. The potatoes were firm. Definitely not squishy.

Ten minutes later, I checked again, and set the flames to the highest normal setting.

About an hour after I started, I was carrying a towel-full of grilled potatoes back to the house, where #3 daughter took over the job of transporting them to the kitchen.

I turned off the gas, shut the valve on the cylinder, picked up my stuff, and went inside.

Sure, I was grilling, and keeping a close eye on the grill. But, I also spent a most relaxing, tranquil hour in the shade of the garage, under a fine blue sky.

No big deal, no straining every nerve to achieve culinary perfection - and the potatoes came out tasting pretty good.

Sort-of-related post:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grilled Octopus?!

It took me a few minutes to figure out how a discussion of King Kong (1933) led to my wondering how you'd grill an octopus. There's a fairly short connection - but right now I'm writing about what to do with an octopus and a grill.

My ancestors, by and large, came from northwestern Europe, where people knew about octopi, but didn't eat them: at least, not as a rule. I've never eaten octopus myself, and understand it can be a bit on the rubbery side.

But that doesn't keep me from being curious.

In other parts of the world, it's a different story. In Greece, htapothi is part of the menu now and again; Hawaii it's called he'e; and in Japan, tako. And, although the local species aren't the same, those are all names for that eight-armed creature with an impolite stare.

I found the names of a few ways to fix octopus, not all of which involve grilling: Takoyaki, I've been told, is fried, not grilled - and there is oil involved. Still, if I read the recipe right (by no means a sure bet), the process takes place - or could take place - on a conventional outdoor grill.

Polipo is apparently a Hawaiian preparation for grilled octopus: but I didn't find a reliable-looking recipe.

Htapothi sti Skhara, now, is grilled. After it's boiled.

I haven't tried any of these preparations: and aren't likely to. You'll find quite a few critters swimming in the lakes and rivers of Minnesota: but octopus isn't one of them. Besides, I'm not sure how fresh the things would be, if I had any shipped in.

If you're as clueless about octopus as I am - maybe even if you're not - check out: The page gives names for "octopus" in several languages; what regions generally supply them are (the closest is about 2,000 miles from my front door); and how to choose, store, and prepare octopus; and the 'flavor affinities.' There's also a reasonable-looking recipe for grilled octopus there.

Almost-related post: