grilling

Top 9 Reasons the Ninth Month is Not My Favorite

by Anne Maxfield on September 2, 2019

Accidental Locavore Gala Apples

It’s Labor Day and I didn’t feel like laboring so please enjoy this post from a few years ago.

Those of you who know me, know September is not my favorite month and here’s why:

  1. It’s the end of summer! If it wasn’t apparent enough by the days getting shorter, back-to-school ads (yeah, ok, those start in July) and everything with “end of summer clearance”, the words “Labor Day” seemingly cannot be uttered without adding “the last weekend of the summer”. It’s really like rubbing your nose in it.
  2. Just because it’s September, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up the grill. Even in New York, we generally grill until the food would get cold coming the short distance from the grill to the house, or we have to dig a path to the grill, (i.e. January).
  3. Therefore, I’m not ready to start braising anything! My theory: it’s not braising weather until there are no tomatoes or corn left at the farmers markets. When butternut squash is all you can find, it’s time for slow-cookers and Dutch ovens. After all, how many recipes for grilled butternut squash do you know?Accidental Locavore Moroccan Squash Soup
  4. Food I haven’t cooked. At the end of every summer, there’s always a huge list of things I wanted to try and didn’t. That’s not to say I wasn’t cooking, the blog (and my waistline) will vouch for that. It’s just that there’s so much you can do with all the great summer foods! And maybe because the gap from the last of the tomatoes to the first of the asparagus is a long one.
  5. I will park the white pants, shoes and bags, but that’s more a matter of upbringing than anything else. Wearing white after Labor Day never feels right to me, and, as we all know, if you don’t feel good, you don’t look good.
  6. When the temperature is above 80 degrees, cashmere, down, knee-high boots and everything else in the stores are nothing I want to come in contact with. Save them for the other ___ber and ___ary months. God knows they last long enough!
  7. I hate fall! There, I’ve said it. To me there is nothing intrinsically good or valuable in days getting shorter and watching things die. To the editor of Hudson Valley Magazine, you are wrong, wrong, wrong about fall being most people’s favorite season. Got it? Wrong!
  8. Even the music is depressing. See You in September, Wake me up When September Ends. September Song, September in the Rain, The September of my Years, not an upbeat tune among them!Accidental Locavore Dog and Football
  9. Football…enough said.

And what I like about September? Oh, just give me a while, I’m sure I can come up with something…

 

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Why Reinvent the Skewer?

by Anne Maxfield on May 27, 2013

Accidental Locavore Grilled ShrimpEvery year, there are grilling accessories the Accidental Locavore just shakes her head at. Seriously now, how many of my readers grill enough jalapenos to warrant a jalapeno holder for the grill? And where is there room for all this stuff? True confession time:  I hate most single-use kitchen stuff. I mean, how hard is it to peel an avocado and slice it? And if it is that difficult, just pull out a big spoon, scoop out the avocado and slice it.

Accidental Locavore Grill CombsBut back to the grilling silliness. Recently, in a trip through Sur la Table (where I was tasked with picking out my birthday present – fun!), I noticed these large stainless combs which were supposed to take the place of skewers. It was an interesting idea, but since I don’t do that much with skewers (except use them to dry pasta, but that’s another post), they didn’t seem necessary.

Accidental Locavore Bamboo SkewersWhen the box arrived with my gift, my friends had thoughtfully included the combs. The other night I decided to take them out for a test drive. I was just grilling some shrimp to put on leftover risotto. It took a minute or two to figure out the best way to do that with (and food takes up a lot of real estate on these things), then I gave them a quick baste with some Caesar dressing and tossed them on the grill. Miraculously, the line about not turning them without tongs or a pot-holder caught my eye, or there might have been trouble with burnt fingers from hot metal handles.

Accidental Locavore SkewersThe shrimp came out fine and I tossed the combs into the dishwasher – and there’s the problem. With wooden or bamboo skewers, you just throw them away.  With my “fancy” metal skewers, they’re flat and they’re coated, making them somewhat non-stick, so they’re usually pretty easy to clean (and since they’re long, you don’t need so many of them). With the combs, the dishwasher did a lousy job so I scrubbed them afterwards, but something has totally adhered to the handles. Now, it’s just the handle, but it’s unsightly and impossible to remove. It did make me realize that sometimes there’s just no need to re-invent something that’s worked just fine for centuries. What do you think?

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The Great Grilling Debate: Gas vs. Charcoal

by Anne Maxfield on May 20, 2013

Accidental Locavore Gas GrillThe Accidental Locavore knows this is going to ignite (pun intended) a controversy, but since it’s almost Memorial Day and the start of the grilling season, let’s talk about gas vs. charcoal. As it happens, we have two grills, a massive gas one that takes a rotisserie (more about that later) and a smallish Weber kettle.

Most people have the perception that gas is faster. Light the burners, close the lid, and in about 10 minutes you’ve got a nice hot grill. Well, if you think about it, charcoal isn’t too far behind. If you use a chimney, it generally gets all the charcoal (real charcoal, not briquettes) going in about the same time (and without the use of lighter fluid which is not a flavor profile you want to strive for). Yes, you then have to dump them out and wait for the grill to heat, probably another 10 minutes but that gives you a few minutes more prep time.

The one big difference for me is how you cook the food, closing the lid on the gas to generate maximum heat, while leaving the lid off on charcoal to keep it searing. With charcoal, in some ways, you have more control over the heat, direct, indirect, combinations – just not the finesse on the level of heat you have with gas.

Accidental Locavore WeberIf I’m cooking for one, I’ll use the gas grill (or super lazy, the grill pan indoors). Beyond that, it depends on what we’re making.  If there are a lot of people, we stick to the gas – it’s a much bigger grill.  Same for using the rotisserie – that’s strictly for the gas grill (just because we don’t have one for the Weber). Other stuff, it depends on the mood and the food. Steaks can go either way. Since I like my steaks rare, they don’t usually spend enough time on either grill to make much of a difference, ditto hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages.

When you get into chicken, for pieces or butterflied, charcoal rules! Grilled pizza is much better on charcoal (think wood-burning pizza ovens). Whole birds go on the rotisserie, where they get done to golden perfection. And for something like grilled artichokes, or for that matter, most veggies, charcoal just gives them that much more flavor. I love to grill corn, straight in its husk and since that’s where most of the flavor comes from, gas is fine.

What do you think? Are you a sworn charcoal aficionado? Do you hate getting your hands dirty, so gas is the only way? Or (and you have my sympathy/empathy) are you a city dweller who can only look at all the grilling issues of the food magazines, drool and pull out the grill pan?

 

 

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Doneness Test for Roasting and Grilling Video

by Anne Maxfield on January 24, 2013

Accidental Locavore Testing DonenessTo continue in the roasting mode, here’s the Accidental Locavore’s favorite way to test for doneness when you’re roasting or grilling. It’s easy and requires no fancy equipment, just your hands. The first few times you do it it might seem a little weird, but trust me, you get used to it and it works! Ask anyone I’ve cooked steaks for, including a slightly skeptical friend who entrusted me with three steaks costing a small fortune.

Because it’s much easier to see, than to explain, check out the short video and let me know what you think. Isn’t it easy?

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