The month of June is a good one for us. The school district we work for gives us a decent amount of vacation, but you have to use it up before July 1st or you lose it. Since we tend to not use vacations much, that Northern work ethic, don’t cha know, it tends to bunch up in June. 3 days on, 4 days off, and by the time another work day comes around, you’re really wondering what it is you do again?
So, in amongst all our time off, we like to do some grilling. It’s the only place I do any cooking, and I think the Mrs likes it that way. My main machine for getting my heat on is a well used and somewhat abused Weber. This old boy’s been around the block, used hard and put away wet, more times than I can think of, and he keeps coming back for more.
Since we have a rather decrepit gas oven for the house, it heats up the kitchen, much like the old wood stoves used to do, as neither one has/had much in the way of insulation. To get around this problem, we started grilling, or cooking with charcoal, just about everything. I think pizza was the first item we tried and that worked so well, about the only thing that hasn’t been tried is ice cream.
For awhile there, the Mrs was making her weekly loaf of bread on the grill, ah, let me restate that. She did all the mysterious bread making things, yeast, rising and punching and eventually handing me a very happy to see me loaf of ready to be baked, bread. Ever vigilant, I would keep an eye on things, and make sure I had the grill running with a full head of steam, when she batted her eyes at me and gave me the nod to take the loaf, and do my thing.
Now, you just don’t go and slap a heap of charcoal on the Weber and call it good. No sir. This is where science and art meet, next to a hot grill, preferable with a cold beer in one hand, and 12 inch tongs in the other. You negative Nancys that turn your nose up at beer need to expand your horizons a bit and know that beer can be a lubricant, a marinade or fire extinguisher, depending on the circumstances. As I was saying, you don’t just throw hot coals at the task at hand; restrain your inner pyro and know that for bread, a very full charcoal chimney will let you ring the bottom of the grill with a double layer of coals, and give 4 or 5 extra coals to place in the center. Keep those center ones well spaced. Wouldn’t hurt to put foil on the loaf pan to keep it from getting too dark. Give it 35 minutes, or 2 beers, and you’ve got perfectly done bread.
Now that you’ve got that mastered, move on to whatever turns your crank. Grilling is just heat, you just need to bend it to your will. The Mrs was watching her favorite cooking show, Alton Brown, and came across a fish recipe that was excitingly different than the old standard of beer batter. All you can catch down here is catfish, and I just can’t abide bottom feeders, they all taste like bullheads to me. She shares my opinion, so we get our fish from the store, at least until we move back home to Minnesota. She picked up a package of Talapia, did some sort of marinade that didn’t include beer, made some Crema with chili powder. I’ll let the Mrs tell you about that. It was some tasty stuff!
Since it was dang hot out and you don’t fry fish in the house if you can help it, we fired up the old Weber. I went out to start the grill and noticed one of our little buddies hanging out, taking some shade and just generally keeping me company while I grilled. I recognized him as the current and ruling boss of the tomatoes. A rather large and stylish lizard, that mostly patrols the tomato patch by the house and drives ole Sweet Pea to distraction. We have lots of lizards and skinks around the place, but he’s got a pretty mouth and rules his roost with an iron claw. He must have had a busy night, cause he was just chillin’ with me while I was grillin’.
While I enjoyed the company, I did not offer him a beer. Lizards get stupid quickly, on beer. The Mrs wanted to try pita bread with the fish, so that went on first. This was a first for both of us, so I was not sure what to expect. They kinda raised a little bit and that was good enough for the first go around. Got them off the grill and put the fish on. We got a fish grilling tool awhile back, and it does a great job holding the fish in place while you flip it. Just 4 minutes for the fish to get done, Tomato King was still chillin’, I saluted him with my almost done beer and went in to chow down.
Now, I don’t really do weirdo food, but apparently wild hairs are contagious, cause I loaded up on a fish pita taco with Crema, and didn’t even pause for seconds. Went whole hog, and made a classic taco salad with very non-standard food items. Fish in place of taco meat, Crema, Sriracha, refried beans and pico, and another dose of hot salsa. I was approaching my hipster foodie critcal limit. Stuffed it all into my pie zone, wiped my face on my arm, glugged down my beer, paused, belched, and sat there with a mildly retarded grin on my face. It was good. Get out there and grill something!