Friday, May 28, 2010

Charcoal Briquettes or Natural Lump Charcoal?

I made my charcoal run yesterday with Memorial Day coming up. And, yes, I went with Kingsford briquettes.

Some folks are surprised that I prefer briquettes over natural lump charcoal, but it's a flavor thing with me. I grew up on Kingsford, and I love the flavor especially when it comes to grilled burgers or steaks.

Natural lump charcoal has more of a wood flavor, since it is wood that is charcoaled down with no additives.

I do use both types of charcoal. The Big Green Egg is supposed to be used with natural lump charcoal. It burns hotter, and there's less ash left at the end. BGE sells natural lump charcoal which is good, but there are a number of brands on the market which work fine.

I'd say, try both types of charcoal and decide for yourself. Both are good products - just different. Some people prefer the faint wood smoked flavor while others (like me) really like the traditional charcoal flavor.

One tip I would give is that if you use briquettes, go with the regular rather than the quick light. The quick light can have a starter fluid taste. Instead, use a chimney starter. They are inexpensive, and you have perfect coals in 15 minutes or so. With natural lump, the pieces are various sizes and shapes and also the natural lump pops and sparks, so use an electric fire starter or one of the lighter products now on the market like the parafin cubes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Banner Day at Masterbuilt and News on Fryers, Smokers, and an Outdoor Cookbook

This was a big day at Masterbuilt. John Jr. just joined the team after graduating from high school. His dad, John McLemore, is the CEO, and John's dad started the company 37 years ago. It's great to see a company stay family owned and for it to go down through the generations. So, first, I would like to say congratulations to John Jr. and the whole family.

It was very random that I happened to interview John McLemore. I'm on the Masterbuilt email list along with many grill and barbecue companies who send material. Masterbuilt sent me some survey data, but I like to do features better. I asked for more detailed information, and they asked if I'd like to speak with the CEO. Well, sure, I love to talk to barbecue folks.

The big news, of course, was that the first of the six grandkids joined the family company, but they had a lot of other things going on too. One new item coming up is the smoker you see above. They sent me a preview photo. It has a window which is nice and also a probe with a read out. Smoking will be even easier than ever, so if you have not made the leap, then this might be a good starter smoker to get going with. Once you ever taste home smoked food, you will be hooked.

Masterbuilt is also coming out with a cookbook scheduled for the fall. This is an actual cookbook with family recipes and not one tossed together like some and then a big name put on the cover to sell the books. When I asked who was doing the cookbook, John said, "Well, I am." Trust me. That's not typical in publishing these days. Thumbs up.

I did have to ask how to spell dadgum. Being Southern, you think I would know. But, I hear it said dadgum and also daggum. Then, John said some say it dabgum down in Georgia. So, if you have trouble understanding Southern talk, well, no wonder. We like to play with words.

Be sure to check out my Masterbuilt feature article on John McLemore at Yes You Can Grill as well as some more family photos including one with Paula Dean. I had to email to find who she was. Duh. I need to meet Paula Dean now, so I will know her when I see her in a photo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Smoked Pork Loin with Big Acres Rich & Mild BBQ Sauce

Last night I slow smoked a half pork loin on the Weber Kettle. I find that it works out for a small family meal to do them in halves, since a whole pork loin is a lot of meat.

How To Smoke Pork Loin Offset on a Charcoal Kettle Grill

You can, of course, use a smoker for a pork loin, but you can also go with an offset on a kettle grill like I did last night.

I got the coals going in a chimney starter and then put them over to one side of the grill. Then, the pork loin went over to the cool side without coals. That keeps it from cooking too fast on the outside and not being done in the middle.

In this case, I had both top and bottom vents open full. If the outside starts to look like it is grilling too fast (getting dark) just close the vents back a bit.

With many foods, I can eyeball and tell the done-ness, but pork loin can be a little hard to tell, so I use a pocket Taylor thermometer. I pull mine at about 160 degrees which is pretty well done - maybe a tad of pink in the center. My boys prefer pork well done, so I cook that more done than I would do beef.

My grilling time on this small loin (around 2.5 lbs) was 1 hour 45 minutes. It was warm outside but did rain a bit. So, times can vary a bit.

Saucing a Pork Loin

Pork is fine with a rub or marinade before grilling or with sauce the last 15 to 20 minutes (or a combo). When it gets about 140 degrees or so, I put on the sauce. If it's a tomato based sauce and goes on early, then it burns. If you put it on right when you hit temperature, then it's kind of runny. So, watch and try to get the barbecue sauce on the loin with time for it to set nice.

I did shift the loin back over the coals and they were burning pretty low by the time I got to the bbq saucing stage.

Big Acres Rich & Mild BBQ

We used Melanie's Big Acres Rich & Mild on our pork loin. She has a collection of absolutely fabulous barbecue sauces. Rich & Mild is my younger son's favorite, because he can't take a lot of heat. But, he still likes robust flavor. Melanie's gourmet sauces have a lot more punch than off-the-shelf barbecue sauces.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grilling on the Weber Kettle with a Meadow Himalayan Salt Block

Yesterday I grilled on a Himalayan salt block. If you've never heard of salt block grilling, don't feel bad. To start with I thought maybe I was supposed to use a grater and rub some salt off on my grilled food, but a salt block is actually meant to be used for serving or grilling (or even heated on the stove top with a ring to lift it off the heat).

Mark from The Meadow sent me a salt block which actually is hand cut in the Himalayan mountains. They work with small family companies and have absolutely beautiful pink salt block products with colors ranging from almost white with a hint of pink to dark red.

The first thing I tried out on the grilling salt block was Frank Corriher sausage (a local brand I love) and an egg. As you can see here, the salt block did a beautiful job on the breakfast meal.

Before I started griling on the salt block, I heated up coals with a chimney starter and offset in my Weber Kettle grill. Salt blocks absorb heat like cast iron but more than that and rated to heat up to 700 degrees (yes - super searing temperatures).

If you're not familiar with offset grilling, it just means that you put the coals to one side and have less direct heat on the cool side. So, I had hot coals to the right and just a few over to the left where I placed the salt block.

You get a better look at the offset grilling here. You can buy charcoal basket holders to do the offset, but a few stray coals over on the cooler side are not a big deal, so I just do it manually for now.

You'll also see the original color of the grill salt block. It's quite light colored to start with.

To heat up the grill and the salt block, I put the lid on with vents open top and bottom for about 30 minutes. That heat level was enough to do the sausage in less than five minutes (flipping once) and the egg in a little over a minute. That would be in a medium range on temperature - probably around 400 degrees F.

For hotter salt grilling, just add more coals than I ran and leave the lid on longer so that the salt block has time to get hotter. It conducts heat real well and holds it even when food is added.

As you can see, the salt block changes colors on the grill and with general use. Again, I'll compare it to cast iron. You know how cast iron comes in a gray color and then gets black with use. Salt blocks also mature with various colors as the salt block is used.

After I grilled the sausage and eggs, I put on some bacon wrapped fresh asparagus bundles.

Some people ask me how I get the bacon to come out just right on foods that grill quick like asparagus or shrimp. The trick there is to pan fry the bacon about half way. That evens out the difference in grilling times and means crisp and pretty bacon.

The heat from the salt block was so nice that it actually did an excellent job on the bacon which can still come out a little undercooked in spots when grilling. I just turned the asparagus bundles once, and the grill salt block crisped it up really nice. My son loved that but not the fresh asparagus. He prefers the mushy canned type.

The last thing I did on the salt block yesterday (since it started raining on me) was bananas. I just cut them in thick rings with the peel on. I left them on a few seconds and then flipped them and drizzled on butter and honey.

After the salt block cooled down (which takes a while), I brought it in and washed it with plain water and a green scratch pad. You just want to wash the grill salt block to get off any food left on there. This takes off a thin layer of salt each time. So eventually you do use up your salt block, but it is thick and good for a number of grillings. It depends on what and how much you are cooking, but mine looks about the same size as when I started.

If you're wondering why you'd add a grill salt block to your grill accessory collection, it adds a wonderful hint of flavor. It's not like table salt (which I don't like all that well). It is subtle and also has some trace minerals that give flavor layers to the grilled foods.

In addition, you can get that really high hot sear that a lot of grillers like. It's almost instant carmelization when heated to high temperatures.

Then, there's the cool factor. My family and friends were quite impressed with my gourmet skills. But, in fact, it's super easy to use a grill salt block, so you can be a grill star and not need any special training or practice.

I really loved the Meadow grill salt block. They really are fun, easy to use, and add such a nice flavor to your grilled foods.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chopped Pork BBQ Sandwich with Sam Dog Mustard Barbecue Sauce

I heated up some North Carolina pork barbecue today for lunch and then took a look at my sauces. Since I had our traditional NC vinegar based sauce yesterday, I thought I'd do something different today and change it up.

Greg of Sam Dog BBQ had sent me some of his mustard based sauce or also called yellow barbecue sauce. If you know much about east coast barbecue, you'll know that's a South Carolina sauce (or pretty much so).

Folks get really touchy about their styles of smoking pork and the sauces here in the Carolinas and that can be just from one county to the next. You want to get folks heated up around here, then talk about religion, politics, or barbecue.

Anyway, I moved here at age 4 which means I am not a REAL North Carolinian. I think that takes 3 or 4 generations minimum, so I'm all over the map on barbecue and love a lot of it. Not all. Now, some of that stuff is just plain bad. But, that's another story for another day.

Anyway, I've tried Sam Dog mustard based barbecue sauce on chicken and pork chops and loved it. So, I had it on our local signature barbecue sandwich, and it was a hit again. Sam Dog is my top pick for mustard based barbecue - really fabulous.

I hate to tell you though that it is not on the market just yet. I've just had some of the home canned. But, I will ya'll know when it goes up to buy, because it is sure a taste treat. And, that's coming from a Carolina girl (if still a transplant 43 years).

If you're a little confused on our sauces and what is done where, then don't feel bad. It is complicated. My brother made this map. It gives you a general idea of how the states break down as far as the types of barbecue sauces.

Update - Great news! Sam Dog Mustard sauce in now on the market - October 2010. Congrats!

North Carolina Smoked Shoulder Benefit to Help Out Neighbors

Mom picked up a NC pork barbecue shoulder this weekend. I smoke shoulders or Boston butts sometimes, but they are a lot of work. And, this was a benefit for Mrs. Watson who has both a daughter and grand-daughter (age 16) with cancer.

This is a small town, and folks come together and help out. So CJs Barbecue Restaurant here in Cleveland, NC hosted. The guys came in and smoked shoulders. The bluegrassers came. Mrs. Watson is, by the way, one of the best of the bunch in this area when it comes to bluegrass. And, some of the men brought in some old time tractors and show cars too.

Yesterday I had lunch with Mom and Harry with our traditional NC vinegar based with red barbecue sauce. It's a thin bbq sauce with a little heat and known as Lexington style. That's Lexington, NC - of course. There's some debate about whether this style of barbecue actually started in Lexington. More likely, it started along the rail lines here in Rowan County. But, you'll not hear it called Rowan County or Salisbury style barbecue.

In any case, our barbecue is delicious and very different from other styles across the country. If you're ever in North Carolina and in the beach or piedmont areas, ask someone directions to one of the wood burning barbecue joints. They will know what you mean. There's a big difference between electric or gas and the wood burning barbecue, so be sure to find the real deal in NC.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Old Home Place - Built in Barbecue on Back Porch with Chimney

This is my Mom's house and where I grew up in North Carolina. We moved in around 1965 after my Dad finished up his stint with the Navy.

In the back of the house was an old barbecue or probably better called a grill which was never used during our time living there. I'm not sure why we didn't use the built in grill. I'm sure it was quite upscale for the time period as the house was built during the 1950s, and none of the other houses around had anything like our built in barbecue or outdoor kitchen area.

Our family did grill and a lot, but my Dad use the Portable Kitchen Outdoor Cooker or PK Grill which is a cast aluminum grill. It went off the market for several years but is now being sold again. It's a great charcoal grill and smoker, and our old one still works great after all these years.

The barbecue area was built right in with the back chimney which we used over the years and where we hung our Christmas stocking that my Mom made. Mine was lavendar - my favorite color.

Looking at the grill area from the top, you can see tht it had adjustment levels. That included both for the top cooking grate and the bottom grate which I'm guessing was the charcoal grate.

Although the grill was never used or covered and seasoned, it is still if very good condition. I'm guessing that the metal is cast aluminum. It's heavy like cast iron, but I think cast iron would be rusted after all these years. I did not see any rust issues.

There are two chamber areas to either side of the main grill area. I'm thinking those were probably for storage, but again I'm just not sure. This was built before I was even born, and I'm just not sure what they had in mind when building this unit.

Here you can see the general set up. There is the center grill and then the two smaller doors which open up to fairly large areas.

Obviously the side areas haven't been used for anything for years. In fact, the other side is painted shut and would take some work to get back so that it would open up again.

Looking inside one of the side areas, you can see that there is space to the side. I'm not sure if that is just venting for the fireplace inside or if perhaps the side areas were designed to bank wood to be transferred to the center grilling unit.

Some of my barbecue buddies over on Twitter where I tweet as cyndiallison were curious about my Mom's built in barbecue grill chimney, so I thought I'd just post it up and see if they or anyone else knows more about circa 1950s built in barbecue areas.

I may try this grilling area out some time. Even after all these years, it is is good condition, and I don't think it would take much to have it cranked up again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Char-Broil Grill 2 Go Ice - Thoughts on a New Travel Grill

My Que Kid got the Char-Broil Grill 2 Go put together and pulled it around for a test grill tonight.

CB from Sizzle on the Grill (Char-Broil blog) hooked us up with that. I don't work for any grill company; I teach and then blog on outdoor cooking for fun. So, the deal (if anyone is wondering) is that I sometimes get sample products in exchange for an honest opinion or not. I don't have to cover anything if I don't want to, and some things I do pass on and some I do trash (so sorry). That's the nice thing about having a personal blog and site. I can just tell it the way I see it.

The concept on Grill 2 Go is excellent. You have a good grill (per my grill tonight) and then coolers under to keep foods and drinks. The whole thing folds down fairly small to a tailgate but not really car size. I'd call it a truck or SUV size model. It's not going to fit in my Jeep, but there is not much room in a Jeep either.

When loaded the Grill 2 Go, ia a heavy grill with two coolers. The big wheels help, but the unit is set about an inch too low for easy pulling. Now, I am in the country, but you can see I am not exactly on the side of the mountain, so this is a hefty pull as it stands and especially for female sized people (although I know some girls have more heft and good for them).

I'd have a hard time handling this one on my own, but I do have two teen boys. They are about grown now with one in college and one who will be a senior in high school. So, they can handle the unit OK, but I have some problems with lift and pulling on it. It runs big for a tailgater but fine for guys I'd say and for females who got some bigger size genes.

I was going to grill pork chops, but since they turned out to be chicken when I pulled out the bag, then it was chicken. Ah well, we had pork loin last night, so prob better to switch up the meats anyway. The guys just roll with it. No prob.

Char-Broil has out a new meat rub and some barbecue sauces. I rubbed the chicken up with Char-Broil meat rub which smelled great and then put the chicken on the Grill 2 Go.

I did pre-heat the grill about 10 minutes and used a litte Pam spray on the grates like usual plus added some wood chunks (Baxters) in the trough below the grates. I like that set up which is similar to the Char-Broil Big Red which is my favorite of their full sized grills. That trough set up makes for some real easy clean up.

Char Broil need to add a little mark, so you can tell what temp you're at. I turned the knob back and forth and did the hand test on heat. But, it was not real clear which was higher and which was lower. They just need a little plastic piece or paint mark to make that more clear. I got it, but I did have to play around with it. Also, I had to play around to figure out that I had to physically mash the button down to get it to fully turn off. Minor details, but some notes on the unit might help.

The infrared which is heat absorbed by metal for more output is great with Grill 2 Go. I had some great grill mark (or sear marks) though those are on the bottom side as this chicken cooked faster than I expected on a small gas unit with a one pound gas bottle. And, that was on medium.

You could easily get a sear on steak or burgers if that is what you are looking for and then can reduce the heat to finish off to the level of doneness preferred. The heat change up is quick, and the lid can be used to contain or let off heat as needed.

Here's our chicken on the Grill 2 Go. As far as the grill, it was spot on. It is a very solid grill. I do think I'd make it a bit more compact and drop the coolers. Neat idea, but I'd rather carry a cooler seperate and divide the load.

My son who likes mild found the Char-Broil rub and barbecue tomato based sauce by Char-Broil a little hot (but not too hot to eat his). His spicier brother loved it. It is in the medium range with some kick and a nice blend and no bitter taste. It would run about what you'd get if you bought spicy Kraft, but the flavor is richer and fuller. So, I like this for a big company name barbecue sauce and also liked the Char-Broil rub.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bacon Weave Pork Loin on Electric Patio Bistro by Char-Broil

My plans tonight were to smoke a half pork loin wrapped in bacon. I cut pork loins in half when it's just me and the boys, and that works out fine.

Since the cat was not acting right, and I thought he better go see the vet, we did that first. The news was bad. They had to put down Sugar who has been with us 16 years. What a bummer.

I didn't feel much like smoking or eating for that matter, but we needed something for dinner, and the meat was all thawed out.

The Char-Broil electric Patio Bistro had been real easy to use yesterday, so I thought I'd do our loin on there and not have to bank charcoal or watch temperatures close. Good call. It was easy to do my little bacon wrapped pork loin, and I was thankful.

I did a bacon weave on the pork loin and then heated up the Char-Broil Bistro. Then I had a brain fart and unplugged it for some reason. So, you can make mistakes and still turn out good food. Stuff happens.

Anyway, we ended up eating late, since I waited 45 minutes to check my pork loin that was not grilling due to me pulling the plug. So, I turned it back on and went another 45 minutes and then checked every 10 minutes after that with a basic food thermometer until we hit right under 160 degrees F. You can go lower, but the boys don't much like pork loin to look pink, so I cook it more towards well.

I also sauced the grilled pork loin the last 20 minutes with Chef Matt Barbecue sauce which is one of my all timve favorite bbq sauces. I order that online, and it has to be PayPal for payment, but it's worth the effort for sure.

The electric grilled pork loin turned out really good and was real easy to do on the Patio Bistro by Char-Broil. I had some Baxter's wood chunks on the grates to give a little smoke flavor and with the bacon and barbecue sauce, this was a kicking loin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Mess with the Grill Chick - Love This Saucy Little BBQ Princess

I keep getting emails asking me to do grilling videos. OK. I know that is the "in" thing to do.

But . . .

I am a griller - not an actress.

Then there are the tech issues. I do have The Flip video camera which is cute and cool, but there's no microphone jack for outdoors. I'd need a tripod as well or a regular crew here to do the tech end if I did the talent part or vice versa. And, I would need to learn the editing software and probably upgrade for the really good stuff on video editing.

So, yes, I have been draggin my feet, although I may tackle the online video thing this summer if I can free up a little time. Then, I may or may not do grilling videos.

So, I can sure relate to this little spunky little grill chick featured by Celebrity Grill (who does a great grill podcast). I feel her window slamming and understand. She is making magic on her grill - not hamming for the camera. Go Hannah Grace. I feel you baby!

Char-Broil Patio Bistro Electric - A Score Especially if You Can't Play with Fire

CB hooked me up with the Char-Broil Patio Bistro, since I am always on the look out for a good electric grill.

Now, some people say, "Cyndi, electric isn't really grilling."

I say, "Well, my hair isn't dirty blonde either, but I like it that color. And, there are people who do not do well with fire and others who can't have fire due to regulations in their areas or where they live. Why cut them out of the outdoor cooking fun?"

Nailing an electric grill is difficult, because the United States was first on with using electricity and uses the 110 standard versus the more powerful 220 like for the washing machine. So, it's hard to get heat and especially with any size on a grill.

Char-Broil did a great job with the Patio Bistro which is large enough to hold my grill wok which is pretty good sized and with room left over.

Also, it hit 550 degrees F on the warm up and much faster than expected. I was looking at around 350 F so opened the lid to drop the temperature back down a bit lower for crab.

The top range on the thermometer is 650. I did not run it max out, but it did do a sear on some country style pork ribs. So, yes, it does crank some heat out. That's with the lid down. Heat is lower if you're grilling open style.

No. You do not get a charcoal flavor or smoked flavor with electric. You don't with gas either. I compensate for that with Baxter's wood products. His wood chunks and sawdusts work great in foil packs on gas or electric to provide some extra smoke flavor. And, he has loads of great wood types too.

I must confess that trying out something totally new on a new grill is not a super idea. The crab balls were not spot on in a wok. Basically they needed more binder - eggs etc.

But, I think the best bet for crab would be a casserole in a toss out aluminum pan grilled lid down like in the oven or maybe with mini muffin pans and a little more grease or oil.

As far as the taste, the crab balls were delicous. But they did not turn out so pretty and did not hold together well. But, that wasn't a grill problem.

Fortunately I did have a couple of extra country pork ribs that I put on after I made the wacky grilled crab balls, and they grilled up really nice on the electric Char-Broil Patio Bistro.

Char-Broil has done well with electric grill models. The ratings have been high online. This is the next generation patio electric grill model, and I give it the thumbs up. It has a good amount of space, hits high temps, will do a sear, and the little warming shelf is a nice extra touch.

I do all sorts of grilling and smoking and even have a fire pit in my yard where I use wood and grates or Dutch Ovens. But, that is not the reality for everyone. If you can't have flames or just are not comfortable with charcoal and gas, get an electric and go for it. And, if you always wanted blonde hair and didn't get it, go get you a box of color too. Life is too short not to make some fun of it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Turkey Breast on Char-Broil Big Easy - Infrared Fryer Vs Gallons of Hot Oil

We decided to test drive the Char-Broil Big Easy today. It's an oil-less turkey fryer but also a smoker and grill that Barry sent out to see what we'd think of it.

I love deep fried turkey, but I don't love the heat, mess, and the cost of all that peanut oil. So, this sounded like a good idea - infrared to cook the turkey with no oil and very little mess. The heat source - the 20 pound gas bottle.

To get smoke, you fill up this little side box with wood chips. My favorite chips or chunks for grill smoke wood are Baxter's which I added to my OpenSky store. I've tried a lot of wood chips, and his are just fresher and packed nicer.

I must say that I never did see much smoke. With the box so far from the heat, there just wasn't much smoking going on. But, the smell of the wood was still there and excellent. I didn't detect it much on the turkey though.

As you can see, you have a chamber here with the Big Easy. I put in the rack and rasied the turkey about to the middle. It can go on the bottom with a second turkey or other meat on top. The unit will hold a lot of food, but we were just cooking for tonight with four eating.

Or you can add the grill grate on top and grill with the lid open like a traditional gas grill.

The recipe booklet was not a big help. It said to use a rub and smoke up to 165 degrees. Hum. That's awfully basic I must say.

I used a little olive oil and rubbed on Chef of the Future Cajun seasoning which is a great product. Don't let the cajun part fool you. This is not a hot seasoning. It is nicely balanced with great flavor. I serve it lots of ways and to all family and friends, so it makes a terrific multi purpose seasoning or rub.

I also added some parsley - more for color than anything. It adds a tad of flavor but mostly just makes dishes look prettier.

Smoke time on low was an hour and 40 minutes and then a rest time (in tin foil) for 15 minutes, so that gives you a ballpark on time. The turkey breast was right at 4 pounds. A full turkey will take quite a bit longer. I'll try to do one of those and get the numbers for that too.

The smoked turkey breast turned out looking real nice, but the proof is in the eating when it comes to grilling or smoking. And, I can say that the turkey breast was very moist and though it did not have a lot of smoke taste, the cajun seasoning took care of that.

I had been wanting to try out Diane's Sweet Heat Holiday Cranbanero Jam, so this was a perfect time. It wasn't a holiday, but we had turkey, so I broke out the jam. These jams are sweet but with some heat. The cranberry is a mild one - just a hint of heat.

Whoa buddy. The smoked grilled turkey with the hot cranberry jelly was fabulous. I like cranberry sauce fine (though others in the family do not), but this is much better than the store cranberry products. It was the perfect topping for our Char-Broil Big Easy turkey. And, I must say that we ate the whole thing and then wished we had done two turkey breasts after all.

End of Year Grill Out - Newspaper Students at Catawba College

Here's my 2010 college newspaper class. This group took us from print to online with The Pioneer, so I am super proud of this hard working group.

We like to end the year with a cook out. I do that now, because students were a bit challenged with grilling for groups. Hum. Let's see. One forgot to bring gas. Another had damp charcoal, and I had to run in and microwave the hot dogs before we starved. So, it works out for me to go ahead and do the grilling.

The class period is only 50 minutes, so I keep it simple. This year, I went with griled burgers and hot dogs. Those always go over well, especially my hand patted grilled hamburgers. One student said she never really liked hamburgers much but that mine were delicious.

I went with Weber Kettles - one 22.5 inch and the Smokey Joe tailgater. They are easy to use, so I don't have to watch close with these models.

The large grill was charcoal, but I used FlamdDisk from my OpenSky store in the smaller one. It's an alternative to charcoal and a fuel that I think works well for college students and for tailgating. It's super easy to light (like a candle), burns out clean, and there is no clean up. Hard to beat that.

The students had fun playing cornhole while the food was grilling. Cornhole is getting super popular here for tailgates or just on sunny days. It is a lot like horseshoes, but you throw bags filled with corn at holes in the game boards. A lot safer I'm sure than tossing metal, and you don't have to put up stakes or dig pits.

For dessert, I'd made peanut butter fudge. I usually put M&Ms on top, but some of the students asked if I could do chocolate chips. Easy enough. So, this batch had chips instead of the candies. Very tasty. This is also my boys' favorite dessert. It's easy to make and always turns out nice and creamy.

Some of my students have already tried making the fudge and some of my other recipes online. I always try to go for things that taste great and are easy to make. Also, I add tips, because there seem to be little things that make a difference when grilling of cooking that they just don't mention in the recipe books.

We had a great time at the end-of-year cook out. Most of my students this year are graduating, and I am sure going to miss them. It is amazing how fast four years go.