Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cooking With Gas

Fire was a game changer for humankind. It gave us light, warmth, the ability to cook, and a nice place to sit and socialize.  Something for everyone. No wonder throughout the ages mankind has been obsessed with it. 

Grilling is controlled fire. My dear father-in-law had a beautiful, grill installed for me. What a lovely gift. We are like-minded in our love of grilling, but my grill was falling apart. It was so old it was not possible to get parts to keep it going. 

I had to remove some vegetation and lay paving stones to make way for the shiny, new grill. It was a little harder to get things level than I thought it would be. Perhaps, it was payback for my obsession with the level during our kitchen remodel.

A few years ago Addison, Maddie, and I were in Italy on vacation. We spent a lot of time driving around lost. When we finally found our way we would say, "Now we are cooking with gas." One of us would quickly add "diesel", since the car ran on diesel fuel. So, the saying "Cooking with gas" has become one of our mottos when things are going right. 

          It is level? Don't look too close.

I use my grill a lot, keeping it simple is essential. I like to grill chicken and vegetables for a quick, easy meal. This marinade is as simple as it gets. It only has four ingredients, but you can enhance it with fresh, chopped herbs, ginger, or whatever you fancy. While I use it most often for chicken it is equally good on pork tenderloin or flank steak. 

The balsamic vinegar slightly caramelizes adding a touch of sweetness. You can use a glass bowl to marinate the chicken, but I find plastic, zip-lock bags the easiest way to go. Marinate the meat for a few hours or over night. It works well with vegetables, too, but only marinate them for 30 minutes to an hour or they will get soggy. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. Just use equal parts of vinegar and oil. I don't add salt to the marinade, instead I salt the meat right before grilling.

I have always had a garden, but the size of it has changed considerably over the years. When the children were small the garden was large, ironically, as they grew, the garden seemed to shrink. There just wasn't the time to tend it that was necessary. But the one part that has been constant is the asparagus patch. Being one of the few perennial vegetables and needing little attention, it was easy to keep it going year after year. 

In my humble opinion, there is nothing quite as lovely as asparagus straight from your garden. It is so tender and sweet it can be eaten raw. Often the tiniest stalks don't make it to the house. I eat them standing in the garden.

Balsamic Vinegar Marinade

1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic sliced or crushed
fresh-cracked pepper

Combine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and pepper in plastic zip-lock bag. Add desired meat (or vegetables). Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Can be marinated over night. Remove from meat or vegetables from marinade and cook on a hot grill.

Toss asparagus with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill until al dente. Roll to turn.

Grilling is easy and it only takes a few minutes which leaves plenty of time to relax and socialize, preferably around a nice, cosy fire. Now we are cooking with gas.

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