My husband, Elmer, has always enjoyed cooking meals on the barbecue grill. I'm glad, because I really enjoy the flavor of grilled meats and veggies, but I didn't grow up in a family who grilled dinners in the backyard.
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've never even cooked a single thing on a barbecue grill.
Pitiful, isn't it? I'm sure all my friends think I'm a basket case. After all, they grill foods all the time!
Usually, my husband grills once or twice a week during the warmer summer months. But last year, I noticed that he really wasn't interested in grilling much at all, even if I offered to fix everything ahead of time (which I usually do, anyway). I guess I never thought to ask him "why", so I continued cooking in the house, using the crockpot and the microwave as frequently as possible so as not to heat up the house as much.
When we first got married, Elmer had a little tabletop Weber charcoal grill that we could take from place to place. While it wasn't a great product for doing "gourmet grilling", it worked. We still have it. We take it to campgrounds and picnic sites when we want to grill a hot meal for the family.
After we'd been married for a couple of years, we decided to invest in a larger kettle charcoal grill like this one. Sometimes, I'd forget to buy bags of charcoal to keep on hand, so we found that we (he!) wouldn't grill as often as he would have liked. It eventually got pretty worn out, however.
When we had been married about eight years, I decided to surprise Elmer with a nicer gas grill for Father's Day one year. My dad helped me pick it up from the store and take it to his house so Elmer wouldn't see it prior to Father's Day.
Even though it was a pretty small gas grill, I thought it was simply amazing!
He was very surprised that he was getting a "bigger "gift for Father's Day, because we didn't have much extra cash lying around the house. For us, this was an extravagant gift!
After a couple of summers of moderate use on the grill, Elmer needed to replace the element (or something like that - remember, I'm not a grill gal!). The replacement part was easily found in our nearby hardware store, so it wasn't a problem.
However, two years later, it needed to be replaced again. Unfortunately, this is quite common with gas grills, I've learned.
This time, the replacement part couldn't be found. He spent a full weekend almost "remanufacturing" to get the "universal" part to work with our grill.
Life went on with the normal grilling at our home, but I was frequently wondering why the hamburgers always turned out black and much overdone. Even some of our guests had begun to comment on this, or tease about it. Flame on!
Last summer, I realized that we (he) only grilled 3-4 times all summer. Hmmm. Now what was that about? I thought about it a few times over the winter.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that because it was going to be very difficult to replace the element again on the gas grill, and the gas grill didn't grill very well, anyway, maybe I should consider getting him another gas grill for Father's Day.
This time, the girls and I went down to the library and looked up gas grills in "Consumer Reports" magazine. Fortunately, the June 2010 issue features reviews on gas grills. Woo-hoo!
I wrote down what we would need to know about shopping for a new gas grill, but this time, it wasn't going to be a surprise. I showed Elmer the information and mentioned that I thought this was something that he might like for Father's Day.
You should have seen his face light up! Yes - he was interested! He read the pages of information, grabbed a highlighter to mark the grills that fit our small budget but would still be excellent choices, and we headed out to the two large nationwide chain hardware stores in our town.
Sure 'nuff, we found what he thought would work best for our family and our budget. This is what he bought:
...a Char-Broil Commercial Series Four-Burner gas grill.
I cannot believe the difference in cooking with the new grill. Because it enables us to cook foods with indirect heat instead of directly over the flame, we are finding out just how wonderful grilled foods can be!
And, here is an actual photo of how our very first hamburgers turned out last weekend on the new grill. Now keep in mind that in the past, they have always been as black as tires.
Black = Blech!
...but these are bee-a-utiful!
I don't share about our grilling experiences and grill purchases to brag about what we currently have. Most families would have spent twice as much on a gas grill - and wouldn't have thought twice about it. To us, this was a big expense, especially as a gift.
However, there are times when an upgrade makes sense to purchase:
1. When the item you currently have is broken and no longer works well
2. When the item you currently have will continue to break or need difficult-to-find replacement parts occasionally
3. When the end result from using the product makes you wish you had just gone out and eaten at a restaurant!
The stainless steel burner on the new gas grill has a limited lifetime warranty, so we are hoping that this grill will last far longer than needing replacement parts every two years.
The grilled food we've had so far has been excellent: corn on the cob, baked potatoes, large trout that Elmer and the girls caught while fishing, hamburgers, lamb chops, pork chops, steak, chicken, and hot dogs.
I think it's time for me to learn a few things about how to operate a grill! But when I wanted to learn last weekend while we were making hamburgers, I was still in the kitchen, getting out all of the condiments, setting the table, and making the macaroni salad, so all I learned to do was how to turn on the grill properly.
I think I'll figure it out some day.
If not, we'll be finding the nearest dog to share the burned remains with, and we'll be eating this instead:
Happy summer grilling to you all!
Hi! I'm Julieanne!