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Grilling it up in the summertime

SPRINGVILLE  — Summertime and the grillin’ is easy. That’s how the song goes, right? Before very recently, I hadn’t grilled anything in a long time. But, I’ve been watching cooking shows again and I’ve become intrigued with the art of barbecue, once more.

I used to have a built-in gas grill in my backyard. It was there when we moved into the house, so I quickly learned to take advantage of this wonderful cooking tool. I grilled everything, because the more I cooked on the grill, the less cleanup I had, in the kitchen. So, my early forays into barbecue were spurred mostly by laziness.

Eventually, I branched out into campfire cooking. This was a logical progression, as my children grew, because camping was the vacation with the most fun, for the least money.

At my peak, there was nothing I couldn’t cook, over a wood fire. I’d start in the early morning, with the coffee pot tucked neatly in the corner of my campfire. I built a grid of logs and commenced to make bacon. Not only did it fill the campsite with the most lovely aroma but it was practical, as well. After the bacon was done, I used the fat to grease the pans for eggs and pancakes. I was a grilling machine.

Grilled sandwiches for lunch, roasted baked potatoes, hot dogs on sticks, or thick, juicy hamburgers were followed by roasted marshmallows, s’mores, and banana boats. It doesn’t get any better than food over an open fire.

As the years went by, the kids grew up and my backyard grill actually disintegrated one spring and fell to the ground, in pieces. I didn’t replace it.

I bought a few charcoal grills, but seemed to have lost my touch. I gave one of the grills away and the other was stuffed into the back of my storage shed, to accumulate spider webs and dust.

That was the case until this past Memorial Day, however. My children were all home and someone suggested that we make Chiavetta’s chicken, on the grill. I unburied my poor, woebegone grill and filled it with charcoal. We marinated the chicken breasts, made a few salads and a spontaneous picnic was born.

Since that day, we’ve grilled our dinner at least five times, with Chiavetta’s chicken, pork tenderloin and strip steaks. We’ve also barbecued zucchini, yellow and red peppers, potatoes, whole heads of garlic and hearts of Romaine lettuce. We even made a shortbread fruit tart and grilled that!

After a dry spell of several years, we’re back to grilling. There is nothing better than sitting outside and cooking something creative, over an open fire. Now I remember the best part: My kitchen stays clean and there are fewer dishes to wash.
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