Posts Tagged ‘bbq’

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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The Flying Chicken

Once in a while, events in one’s life become such a comedy of errors that one can’t make this stuff up if one tried.  Today was that day.

Several months ago my husband bought a high-caliber rifle (he does not hunt but he enjoys target shooting).  He has been wanting to shoot the new rifle for many weeks.  Although we have plenty of room on our property to shoot it safely, our dog is petrified by the sound of gunfire so we avoid shooting practice unless the dog is not around, which is, like, never.

My husband joined a gun club that has a very nice shooting range.  But joining was a story in and of itself.  The gun store in town, whose proprietor is a Member of the Board at the range and is in charge of membership, has irregular hours, and the gun store was never open when my husband could get there, so joining up took many weeks of attempts.  Then, when he wanted to go to the range, something always got in the way:  weather (too hot, too buggy, too rainy), hours incompatible with his work schedule, or people visiting us for the summer, making it difficult for him to excuse himself from the company.

But today was the day!  He planned his work carefully so that he could get off exactly at 5 pm, jump in the car, and reach the range with plenty of time to shoot his rifle before closing time.

As they say:  man plans . . . and G-d laughs.

Today I spent the day cooking and baking.  I have friends coming for Shabbat and they are as picky about food as I am – – meaning, we all love good, home-cooked food made with wholesome, natural ingredients, lots of vegetables, salads, exotic flavors, and whole grains.  That kind of cooking takes a lot longer than convenience-food cooking, but it’s definitely worth it.  There’s nothing quite so wonderful as sharing a hearty meal that’s been carefully prepared with good friends and a few l’chaims.   Also, I don’t like to usher in the Sabbath under pressure with the clock ticking.  So I start cooking 1 – 2 days in advance of Shabbat so I can be relaxed and ready well in advance of my guests’ arrival.

I decided to grill some chicken.  First, I made a wood fire in the campfire area.  Only a few days ago, it had been used for hot dogs, hamburgers and toasted marshmallows, but today, I was going to grill some amazing, quality chicken by searing the skin at high temperature till crisp, then reducing the fire to cook it slowly so it was nice and juicy and tender.  It looked and smelled so good that at the last minute I decided to grill a couple of extra pieces, so I could freeze them and serve them next week.  When the first batch of chicken was done, I put it in the house.  When I pulled the second batch off the fire, I put it in a disposable aluminum pan and rested it on top of my car which was parked alongside my house’s front entry way.  While the chicken cooled down, I was busy cleaning up the grilling tools and the fire pit ashes.

Five o’clock came and my husband quickly put his rifle in the back of the car and off he went.  As I waved goodbye I suddenly remembered:  my chicken was on top of the car!!!

One thing about living in a rural area in the Maine woods, is that cellphone reception is pretty iffy.  And just beyond our driveway on the road, there is no cellphone reception at all.  I tried calling, I tried texting – – to no avail.  The call was not getting through.

Finally I texted:

#STOP THE CAR!  MY PAN OF CHICKEN IS ON TOP OF THE CAR!!!

I was cooling it down.

When my husband finally got cellphone reception and got my text message, he was 5 miles from home.

He stopped the car, but there was no chicken on the roof.

(How he missed seeing a flying chicken, I don’t understand!)

But, to his credit (what a guy!), he turned the car around, and backtracking, he started looking for the chicken on the road.

He found it about a quarter-mile from our house.  And after putting the chicken in the car (other than a little gravel that I washed off, not really worse for the wear; luckily he got to it before it was eaten by a wild animal or run over by a truck), he brought that chicken all the way back home instead of going to the rifle range!

Have you ever said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time?  Because instead of saying “thank you,” I said,

“Where’s the fork?”

And before I could say another word, he was backing down the driveway and went off to look for that fork!

(He did not find it.)

So that is my story of the Flying Chicken.

Tomorrow my husband is hoping to go to the range.

We are not serving the Flying Chicken to our Shabbat guests.

But my husband and I will eat it.  It’s too good to waste.