“If summer had one defining scent, it’d definitely be the smell of barbecue.”

Or so says TV’s Food Network host Katie Lee. She also observes, “The grill is the summer equivalent of a fireplace; everyone gravitates to it.”

And I couldn’t agree more, Katie. Barbecue is that classic activity that combines two of my warm-weather favorites: eating outside and cooking.

Technically, we grill all year long; but we’re all the more inclined to use the barbecue in the summer. This summer is a step or two above our cookouts of past years. We now have a new deck and a new gas grill to match – both of which make cooking outdoors an added treat.

Now that I have a straight shot from the kitchen to the deck, that new grill sees a lot more burgers and brauts. It’s simply handier than navigating four steps down to the old patio with platters of food and bifocals.  

The new barbecue is a sweet piece of cooking gear, and my goal is to really measure up to such a fine grill. Consequently, I’ve learned that I can barbecue all kinds of foods – far more than just burgers.

This puts me in mind of the assortment of foods that one can deep fry. I had become used to deep-fried ravioli some time ago, but who would have dreamed that fried pickles would become popular café fare? Or that flash-fried Brussel sprouts are all the rage in upscale restaurants? State and county fair vendors seem intent on frying all kinds of midway treats like batter-fried butter, Twinkies, Oreos, candy bars, mac n’ cheese, Pop Tarts, s’mores, and so much more.  

As with the fried treats, I searched the Internet for “food beyond burgers” to test the new grill with nontraditional barbecue choices. Let me simply say: Apparently, I can grill almost anything – including watermelon.

I wasn’t sure how that was even possible. I imagined the watermelon slices disintegrating on the barbecue. After all, “water” is the operative word here. But Husband Carl had seen a cooking segment on TV wherein the host grilled watermelon, and then added blue cheese and that thin-sliced Italian ham, prosciutto. Apparently, the grill is hot; the watermelon is thick; and the slices are brushed with oil.

This I have to try.

I also found that I could grill all kinds of fruit including bunches of grapes and skewered strawberries. Tossing Romaine lettuce on the barbecue is the first step toward a unique Caesar salad, and grilled avocados make for a yummy guacamole. Why I could go so far as to toss cheese on my barbecue as long as it is a dense variety with a high melting point.

However, before I test these non-traditional foods, I probably should fine-tune my meat grilling techniques. For example, I fail to give it a rest – the meat that is. I’m told that meat should rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before hitting the barbecue and another four minutes after it’s grilled.

My favorite tip suggests freezing beef bouillon in an ice cube tray, and then placing a cube on each grilling burgers to retain moisture. Who knew?

I can see that my new grill and I have a busy summer ahead.

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