I’m intimidated by fire. I wanted my July grilling goals to be realistic and attainable.
In the past, grilling, for me, has meant finding a recipe, prepping the ingredients (unless they were meat), and delegating the task to Andy. I came across this nugget in Michael Pollan’s Cooked:
“Cooking meat over a fire-whether a few steaks thrown on the backyard barbeque or, more spectacularly, a whole animal roasted all night over a wood fire-is one of the most stirring of those ritual acts, usually performed outdoors, on special occasions, in public, and by men.”
Thank you Mr. Pollan for making me recognize that the meal prep situation at the McKee household is totally normal. I’m so much more at home inside. In the kitchen. Often alone but not at all lonely.
I couldn’t fathom going from baseline to cooking over fire in a mere one month’s time. Instead I chose to focus on learning how to light different types of grills. There were pictures of this. Fortunately, Alisa’s phone saved me some embarrassment by losing them.
I lit a charcoal grill and dumped (I can’t even believe I’m admitting this) hot dogs on it. Wait. Did I light it? I think maybe somebody helped me. Even if I didn’t light it all by myself, I was definitely near the grill during the lighting process. I know I dumped those hot dogs on.
I lit the portable hurling grill (propane) and heated something up on it. July’s kind of a blur. I may have just lit it and left Alisa to grill on Juicy Lucy day.
I lit this bad boy, which is my proudest accomplishment of the month for at least two reasons. Number 1: In the past, I’ve asked my neighbor for help. His whole family joined him to politely marvel in my incompetence. I think my friend Jill may officially be unwilling to grill with me at the helm anymore. And B: this grill is pretty broken. The ignitor switch does not work, so I had to use one of those stick lighter things. Two of the burners do not work. Despite this seemingly insurmountable adversity, I did it. Julia witnessed it. We made this salad. I was brave.
In other fading the prompt sort of news, I improvised several meals in July. This was one: a simple and edible corn sauté over rice and tofu.
Then the next day, to the leftover corn saute, I added leftover chicken and caramelized onions to some steamed potatoes and some sort of dressing that Clara probably concocted, and we had a lovely clean-out-the-fridge dinner. Go me.
The kids are embracing this mission, and if a collateral effect of learning to improvise myself is that my kids become confident cooks, well, I really can’t think of a better outcome.
Clara can make a mean vinaigrette, usually involving a mix of vinegars, mustard, olive oil, and salt. She tastes as she goes, and her spot-on palette continues to fascinate me. Calvin came up with this corn salad despite Andy’s skepticism, and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to the season’s first BLTs.