Saturday, March 20, 2010

So That's Why It was Hard to Light!

The grill's been harder to light the last few times. I didn't think much of it: wind and weather make quite a difference when starting the fire.

Then, about four minutes into today's session, I noticed that the grill wasn't hot. It wasn't even warm. No surprise, really: I was out of gas. Or, rather, the LP gas cylinder was.

The burgers were defrosted before the fire went out, but not by much. My wife finished heating them on the stove. They turned out fine: but without that grilled taste.

Refilling the cylinder was no problem. I just took it over to Fleet Supply, on Sauk Centre's Beltline road, and enjoyed getting out of the house.

I've been getting nine day's of tax preparation done in two this weekend. Which is another topic. ("Lemming Tracks: Tax Time Surprise," Apathetic Lemming of the North, (March 20, 2010))

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three Hundred Dollars for a Drink Mixer?! If You've Got the Budget: Go For It!

"Hot Products for Outdoor Entertaining"
Outside Views - Blog on Casual Living, (March 11, 2010)

"Our homes are expanding as our Patios are becoming a continuation of our residences. As the weather begins to warm it's satisfying to arrange those outdoor BBQ's with family and friends. Its time to get ready to create a perfect outdoor entertainment setting, whether it be for large family gatherings, small intimate get-togethers under the stars, casual entertaining or spur of the moment patio picnics. Before long you and your guests will be relaxing in the serenity of your own backyard.

"An outdoor kitchen complete with a grill can be the centerpiece of outdoor entertaining. One hot item that will certainly keep you cool is the Margaritaville® Explorer™ Cordless Frozen Concoction Maker™..."

Casual living says that they're "The Voice of the Leisure Marketplace". I'll let you decide whether or not they speak for you.

The post tells how wonderful the Margaritaville® Explorer™ Cordless Frozen Concoction Maker™ and Margaritaville Key West Frozen Concoction Maker are. There's a Margaritaville frozen concoction maker, too.

These are items I'm pretty sure my household won't be picking up.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against Margaritaville® products, Frozen Concoction Makers or other consumer versions of mechanical drink mixers. If someone wants to pay $299.99 for a Concoction Maker, and can do so while meeting their obligations: great.

Me? I'm the Easy Griller. My next big purchase is likely to be a new metal spatula for the grill. I could spend something like $20 on a fancy one: but I'm more likely to go with something like what Char-Broil sells for about $4.29.

The products extolled in that post are attractive: and may very well be worth getting. Particularly for folks who entertain.

The author showed a working knowledge of how food, drinks, and people work together:

"...Just as the kitchen tends to be a gathering spot during parties, your outdoor kitchen will also provide this same meeting spot. As you are grilling sumptuous recipes such as this Island Shrimp in Cilantro Tomato Blush, your guests will be standing close by visiting and enjoying the aromas that emerge from the grill...."

Except that, in my family, grilling is when my oldest daughter is likely to come out and spend some time with me.

And I don't, as a rule, do "sumptuous recipes." Flame-grilled burgers taste great on their own: and are something I can do without devoting a significant fraction of a day to food preparation.

But, some folks seem to enjoy the preparation as much as they do eating the food.

Everybody's not like me: which is just as well, particularly for the folks who manufacture and sell Margaritaville® products.
Sorry: I can't let this go without comment:

"...As the weather begins to warm it's satisfying to arrange those outdoor BBQ's with family and friends...." That apostrophe shouldn't be there. The writer obviously wanted to use the plural form of BBQ - which is BBQs, not "BBQ's".

That apostrophe is used for the possessive form of a word: like "the BBQ's lid." If there was more than one BBQ, it'd be "BBQs' lids."

I suppose I should be grateful that the words were spelled correctly.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Something New Coming

Last year, 2009, this household was in crisis mode, financially. The head-on highway collision, wedding, death, and too-close-for-comfort almost-fatality didn't do much to relieve the stress. ("2009: This Year Was Not Boring," Through One Dad's Eye (December 31, 2009))

Well, that was then, this is now. The freeze on non-vital expenditures is off. And, happily, we didn't need to use our reserves.

What, In the Name of Sanity, Does This have to Do with Grilling?!

For most of the two decades we've been living in this house, we've been going to do something about the corner of the back yard where I grill. This year, we're able to do something about it. Pure thoughts, clean living, avoiding debt, and marrying a woman who knows how to manage a household all helped. The last two points, anyway.

As soon as the weather permits, plus about a week, I should be grilling on something other than occasionally-damp sod.

Since this is Minnesota, that could be anywhere from later this month to some time in May.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Grilling in the Minnesota Springtime

Ever wonder why so few people who live in Minnesota lapse into poetic ecstasy on the subject of springtime? This video may explain why:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's Spring: Minnesota Style

I'm able to see more of the base of the grill now.

It's springtime in Minnesota: which isn't the blooming-flowers-and-chirping-birds event it is in some places. (See March 3, 2010, Sauk Centre Journal Blog, for photos.)

At this rate, by the weekend I may have to decide whether it makes more sense to stop down snow in front of the grill to provide solid footing, or scrape away what's left and hope the sod isn't too sodden.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winter Grilling: (Not Quite) Everybody's Doing It!

A while ago I started looking for examples of other folks who share my interest in - or willingness to - grill outside in the winter. Here in central Minnesota, that takes determination, stubbornness, and maybe a touch of insanity. I'm not sure what the mix is.

Or maybe it's the way burgers taste when they're grilled that has me standing in the snow.

Anyway, here's another article about outdoor grilling in winter. An excerpt, actually:
"Enthusiasts embrace winter grilling"
Daily Herald (Chicago) (February 24, 2010)

"Mother Nature recently dumped more than a foot of snow on us, blanketing backyards and covering outdoor decks with cold white powder. Then the winds blew, creating drifts that blockaded sliding glass doors and made the path to the grill treacherous.

"But that didn't stop Scott McCadam from strapping on his boots, pulling on his coat and grilling prime rib for dinner.

" 'I really don't know why I do it,' says McCadam, of St. Charles. 'I know it's crazy... everything just tastes better on the grill.'

"According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 56 percent of grill owners use their grills year-round... but you have to figure a good many of those live in places where the mercury rarely drops into single digits. So here in the Midwest with our unpredictable blizzards and teeth chattering wind chills, winter grilling takes a certain kind of mind set, or lack thereof...."
The rest of the article is a pretty good writeup of outdoor grilling, upper Midwest style.

There are practical observations - and common-sense safety advice. Like keeping the grill at least five feet away from the wall. You can stand the cold easier than you can deal with having your home burn down.