Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Really Fine Grill: For Someone Else

"Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet™ Hybrid Grills Bring Precision, Versatility to the Outdoor Kitchen During the Fall Grilling Season"
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet press release (October 2, 2009)

"With football season underway and the fall holidays fast approaching, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet™ says it's time to kick off grilling's second season.

"The Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association estimates that 40 percent of Americans close up their grills for the fall and winter seasons.Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet™ thinks that amounts to too many people missing out on the enjoyment that comes from grilling in their outdoor kitchens later into the year...."

I took a quick look at the Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet website - it's fairly impressive. They sell outdoor grills, outdoor refrigerators - outdoor kitchens, even. And T-shirts.

The press release isn't just fluff and 'buy our stuff' rhetoric. There are some pretty good bits of advice - like 'keep the grill lid closed.' They say it's important in fall, when the temperature goes down. True enough, but it's a good idea in summer, too. As the press release points out, with the lid down, you concentrate ("lock in" they say) the smoke - which in my book is the reason for outdoor grilling in the first place. It's the smoke that gives meat a taste you won't get on the stove.

Me? I'm not likely to buy their products. Their outdoor grills start at a mere $1,895 and work their way up to a beauty that goes for $11,995. The grill I'm using now, I bought at Wal-Mart. For about a tenth the price of their low-end unit.

It looks like Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has a great product line - but it's not for someone at my end of the economic spectrum.

Which is okay.

From the looks of it, that $12,000-minus-$5 grill is (probably) worth the 'extra' $11,845 I'd pay for it, compared to what I've got. There's a plethora of controls, trays, storage space, and the option to use wood for grilling - which should add significantly to the flavor.

That super-grill looks great.

But - and this is important - pretty good results are possible with a $150 grill. I'm all for someone who's got the income and the interest to go high-end: provided they get high quality as well as a hefty price tag. But there's no reason to feel left out at the other end: I enjoy what I've got.

One thing I really appreciated about the press release was the emphasis on out-of-season grilling. I think American culture's pegged grilling as a summer-only activity. I'll grant that it takes someone like me to grill in anything short of a blizzard - but grilling in autumn would be a great way of stretching the 'outdoor activities' part of your life.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Autumn, Three Burgers, and a Loud Motor

It was about 50 out when I grilled burgers this noon: a fairly typical fall temperature here in central Minnesota.

Today I'd been given three burger patties to take care of - apparently my wife isn't storing 'leftover' burgers any more. I'm learning - one side of the burgers got darker than most of the family likes them, but they're far from incinerated.

Aside from the pleasure of eating grilled burgers, I like the fifteen or so minutes I get, standing by the grill and enjoying the neighborhood.

Today the background noise wasn't birds, or wind, or the occasional passing car.

I think someone was using one of those big shop vacuums, maybe a block or two away. That muted whine isn't the sort of thing that most people wax eloquent about - but it's part of the ambiance here, and it's okay.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autumn's Here: Chilly, Damp Autumn

The forecast says it'll get up to about 50 degrees Saturday. It's been raining - which we need - but there's a good chance the grass will have dried out by then.

And, if all goes well, I'll be out there, grilling burgers around noon.

I'm not one of those summer-only grillers. It takes something like a high fever, a blizzard, or a tornado warning - plus my wife - to keep me from grilling, in all four seasons.

The only frustration I feel, now that it's cooling off, is that I finally re-learned how not to incinerate burgers in summer. During winter's low temperatures, it's a whole different ballgame.

Still: I'm looking forward to having quiet moments with me, maybe a member of the family, and the passing season this weekend.