The Volcano

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Two and one-half years ago, at the end of our guests’ stay, they generously gifted us via UPS with a Volcano.  I had never heard of this unique type of grill until then.  I was unaware of its cult following amongst preppers and survivalists who swear by its wonders.  Its design works via a different type of heat distribution to cook evenly and thoroughly with less expenditure of fuel, and in smaller quantities, than other grills.  It can use propane, charcoal briquettes or wood as fuel, making it a great survival and emergency cooking tool, and it collapses and folds down for portability.

But you can’t use a Volcano without reading its very specific directions, which sounded a bit complex and daunting.  It came with a cookbook filled with warnings and cautionary notes about cooking techniques, the various combinations of setting the grilling shelf at different levels, the exact number of charcoal briquettes to use and amount of ventilation holes to open or close if using a Dutch oven or frying pan or just doing straight barbecuing.  While assembly was easy, every time I read that instruction book I sighed and gave up.  Since the grill arrived the day before our guests left, there hadn’t been time to use it.  Truthfully I felt no true compulsion to give the Volcano a try after they left, although I’d take it out of the box every so often, read the instructions and stare it down with hard, doubting eyes.  Every time we’d see our guests back in our home town, they never failed to ask if we’d tried the Volcano yet.  Embarrassed, I’d answer honestly and say that no, we were waiting for them to visit again so we could explore the wonders of the Volcano together.

Well, our generous guests arrived this past summer, and I knew I was going to have to make a cookout with the Volcano.  This time I was determined to make it work.  I don’t know why the language of that cookbook overwhelmed me so, although generally I do tend to get flustered from multi-step processes.  So I broke the instructions into little pieces that I could better handle, and sure enough, the whole thing started to make some sense.  I placed “NO MORE THAN 25 BRIQUETTES!” (as the instruction book warned in caps) into the base, lit them, and waited for it them to get hot and turn white.

I will tell you this:  like the cookbook bragged, it produced the juiciest, most evenly cooked hot dogs and hamburgers I’ve ever tasted, even from grills that cost many hundreds or thousands of dollars more.  My guests were equally delighted.  The Volcano is a definite keeper, and I highly recommend it for preppers, car campers, park visitors, and home grillers.  It’s actually easy to use and easy to clean – – hooray!

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My next project will be deciphering the cookbook’s instructions for cooking a stew with my Lodge Logic cast-iron Dutch oven.

I’ll let you know how that goes . . . in about two years.

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