Anniversary Grilling (sort of)

Four year anniversary . . . nothing special . . . maybe to others! My wife and I began our day of quad-anniversary celebration by eating a fancy breakfast with our 2-year-old son, Elliott, at Cracker Barrel. Promptly, he treated us as well as the CB staff and paying customers to a shattering display of pancake plate tossing. I never wanted to be that guy (or that dad) where everyone is looking at you because of what someone had just done. Thank goodness my wife was there to savor the moment with me. Nevertheless, next stop was to the movies to see Cars 2. Again, and obviously so, given the movie choice, Elliott joined us. Occasional screaming at the screen and questioning aloud of everything should be expected of someone witnessing his first movie ever, right? We were the last people to leave that theater showing. But - finally - later in the evening, once Elliott’s bath was complete and he was tucked safely away in his “big boy” bed, dinner was about to be created.

It was Date Night: The Home Edition . . . with the baby monitor on! The day before “Our Day”, I had found a recipe in the recent issue of Food and Wine: Gingered Salmon with Grilled Corn and Watercress Salad. Initially, I thought that the corn would be grilled and then the final salmon skewers could be thrown on Ethel, too! I was wrong. We could only grill the corn, which meant Pigskin’s Ethel still made a brief appearance:

The dinner turned out great. Actually, it’s an awesome summer dish that we’ll be having again and again in our household. The ginger that was tucked between the prepped slices on the salmon gave it wonderful flavor. However, be wary, initially we thought the salmon wasn’t cooked all the way - “Oh wait, it’s the ginger!” As for the dressing, it was good all by itself and could easily be used for other salads and dishes. We basically followed the recipe. The “tweaks” we made were as follows: about ⅓ more salmon, 2 less ears of corn, same amount of water cress, and barely the required measurements for the dressing. If it said a teaspoon, we added almost a teaspoon. Sorry - we aren’t practicing gastronomy here.

Side note: Doesn’t “gastronomy” sound like something you get after eating something that wasn’t cooked properly? Or, as my wife claims it to sound like - “The Study of Farts.”

Anyway - you get the basic gist of the dish. The dinner was good and we’ll be making it again, but maybe not on Pigskin Gourmet. However, at least you know that we’re working out Ethel during the off season. In addition, we’re keeping our culinary skills in “shape” for cooking and grilling this upcoming season! Oh yeah, to man-ly up this dish (my request), we shared a big bottle of Hellhound beer - a beverage from Dogfish Head. Beer was good, just sadly not with this meal. Of course, the magazine suggested a certain wine, but as you saw in the picture with the corn grilling on Ethel, beer was popped and we stayed the course with that arena of alcohol. For great wine suggestions always visit, 1 Wine Dude.

The successful dinner of Gingered Salmon with Grilled Corn and Watercress Salad helped make our anniversary a great one - with more dinners and anniversaries to come!

Here’s a final look at the meal. Please note that the images taken in this blog were via the camera on my Blackberry and should not be associated with the dazzling pix of Cecil E Rudd Photography.

Dirty Grill

(Set in late May - just to help set the scene) Ahhhhh . . . Spring is in the air, the weather is finally warmer, the NFL draft has been completed, and McNabb is a Redskin. At this point, I get stuck. Being an avid Birds fan since forever, I've been learned to hate the Giants, the Redskins, and (doesn't everyone) the Cowboys. And now - 5 is a Redskin. I'm trying to deal with it - slowly. Although, I am thankful that I have a Trotter jersey and not a McNabb jersey. What do you mean Trotter isn't coming back!

Alright, enough Bird talk, on with the grilling, right? Wrong. After Season 1 of Pigskin Gourmet and then sitting through that blizzardy winter of ours, the grill is pretty banged up. However, with the sun shining bright today, I felt the strength to peel away the black pollen-covered tarp protecting our treasured outdoor "kitchen" from weather, animals, and the helicopter seedings of the Oak trees. Those annoying things are everywhere! I remember as a kid loving them. I would fill a whole bucket with the helicopter seeds and then once it was full - "dump" it high into the air. Yeah, it's raining helicopters! They are zero fun today. Somehow they managed to flutter up inside the grill - so confusing.

Nevertheless - here's a picture of the mess that was laid out before us:


Yum! Thankfully, my wife was up for the challenge as well. In fact, once the party of cleaning began to unfold, she really ran with this one and who am I to stop her pleasure for cleaniness. Thank you, my dear!

First things first, prior to this sunny day, I had purchased a Professional Strength Stainless Steel Cleaner. The sign at the orange flavored depot store said that every grill needed this product for its spring tune-up of their grill. I felt as if the sign was written specifically for our grill and promptly bought it. Upon further review at home, I read the can and saw how it highlighted the removal of fingerprints. Fingerprints! What about sludge, rust, piles of I don't know what - fingerprints? Before today, that stupid can sat for two weeks in my backroom. In my mind, it was not a miracle can for cleaning and, in turn, I would still have my work cut out for me.

Back to the cleaning day - I dragged the shop vac up from the basement, gathered up a boat load of clean towels, and hooked up the garden hose. The grill had to be cleaned by day's end, because we just bought a steak to go with our salad. Actually, if you go back to the Pigksin Gourmet episode on 11/13/09, you can watch Cecil and me create "Steak and Salad" magic.

Okay, on with the cleaning of this dirty grill - really! I first took the shop vac and vacuumed out a whole lot of crap. Gone! Next, we took the hose and fired that grill up. Whoa, whoa, whoa, there was no actual firing up of the grill by lighting it. Nope. We actually unleashed a jet stream of water via the garden hose. The gas was disconnected and safely put away for the time being. We then removed all that we could remove - the drip pan, the grill plates, these little triangle thingies that hold up the grill plates - basically, if it became disconnected, it was removed. Every one of these items was then separately cleaned via the garden hose. This is the part where my wife took over and did a great job of cleaning. I had the difficult time of entertaining our son, Elliott.

101_1099So difficult! :)

Once my honey was done with the hose (heh heh), we turned it back on the grill again. Black sludge was trickling everywhere. Our patio would require a hose down at the very end of this grill cleaning day, too. All parts that were removed and drilled clean via the water spray were now returned to their rightful spots within the grill. Did you think I forgot about the miracle can of cleaning? I didn't. I sprayed and wiped the grill clean. I then sprayed some more and wiped the grill clean some more. I was spraying like a mad man and wiping that grill clean! In the end, the can gave us a pile of towels that carried its stench with it to the garbage. We did try to clean the towels once, twice, three times even! They still stunk, so in the garbage they went. The grill was fingerprintless, but it still had some rust marks along with some other banged up areas, but it was ready for 2010!

I stood there so proud of my grill (North American Outdoors - feel free to send me an updated version. Actually, send me one each year and I won't have to do this cleaning regimen.) With my smile wide, I slowly closed the top down to the grill. I forgot to clean the hooded top. There were fingerprints everywhere. But you know what, I lifted the hood back up and you would never know. However, what you would see is . . . is the miraculous helicopter seed survivor.


I flicked it aside - it's time to hook up the gas and really fire up the grill this time! We got some steaks to cook!


Football Season Starts Today!

Football season starts tonight with the draft in prime-time! With a 7:30 p.m. ET start time, it's the perfect time to fire up the grill for the seasons first prime time tailgate. Hopefully you’ve cleaned your grill from last year, better yet, I hope you’ve already clean it and grilled at some point this year. If not, do it now and then get your favorite tailgating cook book, or check out one of our videos (the Grilled Flatbreads would be a perfect for a quick meal) and enjoy the draft while getting your taste buds ready for a great football and tailgating season.

Stay tuned for Season 2 of Pigskin Gourmet!