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Labor Day Recitations

September 5, 2011

Every Labor Day I feel the need to tell you all a few critical things:

1)    If you are grilling today, it’s a cookout, NOT a barbecue.
2)    Put those crisp white wines in the fridge and drink them soon.
3)    Finish up any leftover white rum and tequila.
4)    Should you freeze pesto, don’t freeze the cheese.

Actually, in Albany it should be raining all day. So there goes the grilling thing already. Luckily we don’t really celebrate Labor Day in the Fussy household. Mrs. Fussy works all the time.

Still, it’s a well-established day to look back over the summer that is ending and look forward into the fall that awaits. And except for the raking, I really love fall. But before we can move forward we have to revisit the regrets.

You know what I never got this summer? A grill. Can you believe I have no grill? Well, I don’t. We had one in California, but we didn’t want to put a dirty grill on a clean truck. It was just a simple Weber kettle. But I never let briquettes touch it. This classic beauty was exclusively used for lump hardwood charcoal.

Sure, it was time-intensive, but it was worth it. Well, at least it was when I bought it, before having children.

Our first year in the Capital Region we rented a house, and we moved during the summer. Buying a grill didn’t seem to make a lot of sense then either. Nor did it make sense the summer we bought our house and were busy with all the moving-in shenanigans. Last summer Little Miss Fussy was still but a wee little thing, and having a big hot thing on the deck didn’t seem prudent.

But this was supposed to be the year of the grill.

Except I dragged my feet, because I didn’t want to admit the dark and dismal truth: There is no place in my life anymore for a charcoal grill.

There. I said it. For years, gas grills have been the subjects of my derision. “That’s not a grill, it’s a stove that you’ve moved outdoors.” I’m not the manliest of men, and I’m not looking forward to one of my manlier pursuits being emasculated. Cooking with fire and smoke and wood is manly. Turning on a gas knob and hitting an ignition button is a poor poor substitute.

But with kids around, and the need for more timely dinners, I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the coals to heat up before cooking our family’s food.

Honestly, the mild summer helped suppress the desire for outdoor cooking. During the hottest week of the season, our family was down in Pennsylvania enjoying the newly geothermally cooled farmhouse. And there my very manly father-in-law built a fire pit into the land, ignited some large pieces of dried wood, and charred some meat.

Maybe it will happen next summer. And maybe that will be the year I finally get fiore sardo for my pesto. I had thought this season I would call the DeFazio’s and see if they had the real thing, as they were my hottest lead for this critical ingredient for true pesto.

Regardless, this summer was great. We had the Tour de Soft Serve and the Tour de Fish Fry. I wrote up a bunch of good things to eat for All Over Albany. I made it down to Rhode Island, Long Island, Pennsylvania and California. We had that great seasonal dinner at Ala Shanghai, I visited Red Front for the first time, had multiple beers with the Yelp community, met some chefs, more bloggers and food producers.

I also ate a lot of ice cream. Now I’m Duke of The Snowman.

Secretly, I’m kind of relieved this isn’t a four-season ice cream market and the ice cream stands will be closed for the next six months. This summer hasn’t been kind to my waistline.

But fall is going to rock. Keep your eyes peeled for round two of the Tour de Donut. I’m also going to be participating in the fourth annual All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza. And I haven’t forgotten about the cupcake thing. It’s still on my agenda. As is beer, and a whole host of other food related things.

So keep an eye over here at the FLB. If you’re not following on Twitter or Facebook, now’s as good a time as any. And if you are stuck inside today without a cookout to attend or work to do, I invite you to catch up on all of the posts you may have missed over the summer.

There are plenty of good things to regret, but having missed out on some fussiness shouldn’t be one of them.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 5, 2011 10:33 am

    I always found that charcoal grills made cooking for kids and family much easier (and tastier), and actually saved time: less clean-up, fewer pots and pans.
    And (we’ve had this discussion before!), I freeze pesto with cheese and oil, and have done so since I first made it in 1976, with no ill effects on flavor or texture whatsoever.

  2. September 5, 2011 2:18 pm

    You know the nice thing about beer and cupcakes? They’re not tied to a season. They can easily be enjoyed in crappy winter weather, and therefore something to look forward to. :)

  3. September 5, 2011 2:51 pm

    Every year around May we’d lament our lack of grill, thanks to local laws and apartment w/balcony living. My parents grill all the time; they like how easy it is to prepare some of their favorite things (chicken, steak, veggies), the easy clean up, and being outside when it’s beautiful (and not). This summer we finally got a grill of our own and enjoyed those same benefits and one more–keeping the heat outside. When you don’t have air conditioning and the summer temperatures are escalating, turning on the oven and standing over the stove are not my favorite activities. Keeping the heat outside was awesome. And I just ate leftover grilled vegetables with tzatziki for snack. I hope next summer you’ll grill (if you want to). I’m sure J is excited for the Tour de Donut II, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

  4. -R. permalink
    September 6, 2011 11:57 am

    With a nice bag of Kingsford Match-Lite briquettes, it takes no more time than a gas grill to get the fire going. Plus, that lovely taste of meat flame-kissed by carcinogens clearly eclipses any gas stove on wheels. Nothing finer.

  5. September 6, 2011 10:40 pm

    Put good lump charcoal in a chimney, light a few pieces of old newspaper and you’ll have a hot grill pretty quickly. “There is no place in my life for a charcoal grill” is just depressing. If you want to give charcoal another try, I’ll loan you an 18″ kettle and chimney.

    • September 6, 2011 11:14 pm

      You’re telling me. Why do you think I was dragging my feet in succumbing to the gas grill. I don’t want to do it. Thank you for the generous offer. Maybe the answer is to hold off on any grill until my life can accommodate charcoal again. As the kids get older, require less supervision, and go to sleep even just a little bit later, the possibilities really open up. I’ll have plenty of time to ponder such things over the long and cold winter ahead.

      • September 7, 2011 12:15 am

        Long, cold winters are perfect for grilling!

        I don’t know how old your kids are. Mine (currently 7 and 5) have stood close enough to the grill to feel the heat and know keep away from it. I also fire it up slightly off the beaten path. On nights I grill, I pull into the garage, fill up a chimney, light it, go into the house, set up what I’m grilling and by the time I am back at the grill the coals are hot. If you are indirectly grilling a roast or whole chicken, that probably takes too long on a weeknight. But steaks, seafood (clams are awesome), burgers, sausage are cooked pretty quickly. I think you once mentioned picking up a bunch of flank steaks…perfect for the grill.

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