The topic of grills comes up every year around Memorial Day at our house. Usually the conversation goes like this:
Me: Let’s replace our old non-functioning grill.
Me: I love the taste of a grilled hot dog, and I always have to invite myself to my parents’ house when I crave one.
Me: It’s a quintessential summer taste, and I miss it terribly!
Me: I’d really like to be able to grill a burger or a hot dog ourselves!
Neil: You mean you want me to grill a burger or hot dog.
Me: Well, yeah.
And that, my friends, is where the conversation usually ends, with my husband proclaiming his displeasure at the idea of standing over a hot grill on a 90-degree day, and me feeling terribly deprived.
I am not sure why I have allowed myself to be defeated by this for so many years. I suspect it has something to do with traditional gender roles and my long-held belief that grilling is the man’s job. In fact, it took me a while just to believe that Neil could really dislike BBQing as much as he said he did. I mean, aren’t all male children born with an innate urge to flip burgers over an open flame?!
I have known for some time that if I wanted convenient, at-home, BBQ goodness, that I would have to put on my big girl apron and learn to do it myself. But I’ve resisted. Because I am a total wimp about some things.
But then Neil had his heart attack. And I started thinking about grilled chicken.
And I finished reading Dinner: a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, who, along with her husband Andy, writes my favorite food blog. Jenny and Andy have this adorable habit of writing each other public letters which manage to be sweet and hilarious at the same time. Near the end of the book, one of these letters involved Jenny’s confession that she wished she knew how to use their Weber grill, and Andy’s response that it was easier than she thought. And then he proceeded to explain the process.
And what do you know, it did sound easy! All I needed was the grill and a chimney, and I’d be set! I felt so empowered, that I told Neil, “you know, if we replaced our old broken gas grill with this new charcoal grill, I could do the whole thing myself: heat the coals, cook the food, everything!”
I’m pretty sure he believed me, because a few days later, there was a UPS guy at my front door, delivering a box full of grill parts that Neil said was to “thank me for all I’ve been doing lately.”
Awww, he bought me a grill!
(photo by Eamonn)
And then, just to prove I was man enough to BBQ a burger, I put that whole dang thing together myself (with a little bit of help from Eamonn).
And I only had one piece leftover at the end. I’m sure it’s nothing important (she said, carelessly).
I stared at the assembled grill for a little while, and then I just went for it: heat the coals in the chimney, dump the coals into the grill, cook the meat. We had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked outside that night, and there was no man-with-a-spatula in sight.
I did the whole process myself. And I even kind of enjoyed it.
Was it a rousing success? Well, not really. I think our meat was more steamed than grilled. There was a distinct absence of flames once I poured the burning coals from the chimney, but I think I know where I went wrong, and when we try this again (for chicken, I hope) I will know how to do it better.
I am a grill master, hear me roar!
Ok, maybe not. I haven’t mastered the grill yet, but I have mastered my intimidation surrounding it, and I’m eager to play with some new recipes!
That reminds me – I need to go defrost a chicken breast. And please, if you have any tried-and-true heart-healthy grill recipes, I would love if you wanted to share! Just no fish – Neil is allergic. Thanks!