I live in the Mid-Western portion of the United States. It's summertime. By law, this means I must grill out a minimum of once a week. If not, I may lose my Mid-West citizenship & be forced to relocate to Arizona. Dry heat or not, I'm not going anywhere the temperature stays in triple digits more than 3 days a year.
When I say "grill out" I mean with a big black bowl full of charcoal, lighter fluid, flames, and smoke. I do not mean one of those mamby-pamby propane gas deals Hank Hill has been trying to pawn off on us since the mid-90's. In my opinion, if you're going to use a propane grill, you might as well stay in your air conditioned kitchen and break-out the latest boxer pimped indoor model. Especially if you're (like some people I know) wrapping every exposed surface of your grill in aluminum foil to make for easier clean-up and fewer grease flame flairs. If that is the case, save yourself the hassle and fry it. I lived in the world of the propane grill for the first few years Husband and I were married. I was not happy there.*
I'd like to say I'm a master of the grill, but in reality, if it's not shaped like a patty, a pork-chop, or wrapped in hot dog casings, I don't mess with it. You will not find me, a la Bobby Flay, grilling summer squash and mangoes with tilapia. I've never attempted to bake a cake in my Char-Broil. I'm not making fresh grilled fruit kabobs for the next family reunion. Porkburgers? Yes. Steaks? Occasionally. Hot dogs? Definitely. Corn on the cob? No way. Maybe I'll expand my horizons, but only when someone else is here to eat it with me. My kids would die before they tried anything not available at McDonalds or Pizza Hut.
I have learned a few things since returning to the world of charcoal.
#1. Grilling is a tough job when you have no depth perception due to clamping one eyelid shut to attempt to keep out the smoke that's making you cry like a 15 year old who just caught her boy friend necking with that skanky girl from biology class at her own birthday party.
#2. If you live among a herd of nearly feral cats, keep a very close eye on your food, cooked or not. If you're not constantly aware of your surroundings your food will mysteriously disappear.
#3. The same goes if you live with beagles and great danes.
#4. You may, occasionally, want to clean out your grill or you will find yourself with a house full of nearly starved FarmHands waiting for you to scrape a years worth of baked on grease from the bottom of the grill before you can light it.
#5. Before cleaning your grill, you might want to bring out a bottle of Dawn. If you forget it, you will be forced to ring your own doorbell and stand on the porch until your husband can bring out the dish detergent so you can scrub your arms to the elbows at the spigot in your yard in a vain attempt to remove the grease you've been scrounging in. Although, if your family is like mine, your children will not realize it's you ringing the doorbell and you can listen through the door as they all run screaming to their rooms to find suitable clothing to put on before the "company" comes in and sees them in their Fruit of the Looms. And that's fun.
#6. Do not let Husband use the grill unattended unless you like your burgers to closely resemble the charcoal briquettes your cooking them over. Forget "cook until the juices run clear." Husband is of the "cook until there are no juices present" school of cooking (it's not his fault, it's genetic). Well done can take on a whole new meaning when he's left to the task. It's the opposite of how he handles a wiener roast. Then your hot dogs may be blackened on the outside but ice cold at the core. There's a reason we have the division of labor we've adopted around here.
#7. Do not put the upper grate back on the grill until you are sure the coals are well lit. Taking the hot metal grate off time after time without getting burned is a task not easily mastered.
Happy Grillin', y'all!
*Please do not take offence at my...well...offensive remarks about gas grills. If you like them, so be it. I'm happy for you. Someone out there must love their gas grills because they sell like hotcakes around here...although for the life of me, I do not understand the draw.