Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Notes from the Cabin: The Suburban Grill

Every blog is worthy of a guest post from time to time.  We are not above posting the adventures of others –  of their triumphant victories and their humbling defeats. My elder brother, of whom I have referenced on occasion here, has been maybe our longest-standing reader, and personally privy to some of our grill time endeavors. He likes to write, as well as to cook out-of-doors,  and so I asked him one time to write us something, about putting meat to flame, and I would see about posting it up here. Well this weekend last, nestled amid the whispering pines at his remote cabin in Wisconsin, he jotted off this ditty for us, whilst the wood smoke curled from the grill, and the sunbeams seared over frozen waters. Covering such topics as brothers, impressing women, how grilling on some units is not unlike driving an SUV, and the notion that the size of one’s grill , for better or for worse, might indeed matter.
–POTP
DSC_0064

I am not a sun worshiper, I do not seek out the sunny areas of the outdoors and bask in the sunshine, I do not try to tan my skin or even want too. But having said that, I have to volunteer, somewhat discreetly , that yesterday afternoon I lavished in the golden sunbeams. I lay willingly in the warm sometimes hot caresses of that fiery orb that is the center of our solar system. I paid homage to the sun and all the good things that it brings.

The warm breeze swept across the ice-covered lake, mingling the hot and the cool air like I love so much. In the northern climates, a day like this is not wasted, it is seized and every drop of enjoyment is squeezed out of it. Motor cycles come out, bicycles, dogs and the people who walk them. Minnesotans find things to do outside, and for some of us, that means lighting up the grill…

It has been six months since I last started the big grill here at the cabin, and I am still a bit intimidated by the hugeness of the thing. I got it for free, someone left it down at the end of their driveway, a piece of cardboard hanging on it swinging in the breeze, scratched with magic marker saying “FREE”.

I kind of see why now, after using it last summer.

They could not afford to fill the thing.

This grill is the GMC Suburban of grills. You can fit an entire turkey in the thing and still have room left over for a few bratwurst and hamburgers for your close friends. The thing is huge. My little Weber grill back home is twelve inches in diameter. At the start of a grilling session, I have only to put five to seven pieces of briquettes on the leftover coals from the last cook. That is all it takes to make the Weber Smokey Joe run. My little brother calls it the Honda Civic of grills. You get a lot of mileage from those little black chunks of coal.

 Weber Smokey Joe -AKA- The Honda Civic of grills

Weber Smokey Joe -AKA- The Honda Civic of grills

My big Suburban grill at the cabin likes coal, like a sailor likes his rum. I toss four to seven pieces of charcoal into its vast maw and they drop into the abyss. Like dropping rocks into a well. You can hear the things bouncing off the sides on the way down, and they disappear as they reach the darkness at the bottom. Back home, on my humble Weber, a small bag of charcoal will last most of the summer. The largest bag of charcoal I can buy will barely get me three cooks on this behemoth. And worse, because the lid does not fit tightly, they burn all the way down each time, forcing me to replenish the whole pile with each session.

After the grill is lit, and the flames have settled down, ( or stabilized as my brother would say) I feel somewhat awkward placing my single hamburger patty and two Bratwurst on the immense grate. They only take up a small portion of the vast area under the lid. It made me think of being at a baseball game where only you and two of your best friends are sitting in the stands cheering the team, the rest of the huge stadium empty.

I swear, the sizzling hamburger patty had an echo.

In spite of my brother’s influence, I have never been very good on the grill. A piece of T-Bone steak, seasoned with garlic salt is the epitome of my meager talent. I bow to my little brother, who is the proclaimed “Patron of the Family Pit”. I have of course been reading his blog and like you followers out there, I feel inspired to try my hand at the craft. But , I know my limits. . .

I have never grilled fish on a cedar board, and more than likely never will, but give me a pound of hamburger, or some hot dogs, and I am in my glory. Simple tastes for the simple-minded I guess.
I read with awe how my brother put together Apple Wood Spare Ribs, or the Smoked Brisket. I have actually tasted his Hickory Smoked Rib Sandwiches. If I am in the right place, at the right time, an occasional chicken wing will come my way. But, and I will be honest here, I have about as much chance of making his Smoked Honey Tainted Pork Chops as I would making a slam dunk with a basketball.

I thought about these things as my Suburban grill at the cabin did its thing with my three pieces of meat . I knew I was not going to impress my woman with such a scanty offering, but hey, we were out in the middle of nowhere looking out over a frozen lake. Where else was she going to get food?

-The Patron’s Brother

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8 responses

  1. I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked, and he has a whole section on “pit” BBQ. Have you read it yet? It may be of interest to you!

    May 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    • Well thank you! No, haven’t read that one yet. Always up for a good BBQ read. Thanks much!

      May 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm

  2. You should defo keep up the blogging. Effing love it!!

    May 5, 2013 at 2:53 am

  3. Mar Hamilton

    Great post from your brother. Youguys are great.

    May 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

  4. Where do you get a brother like that? Literate, charming, self effacing, amusing and respectful towards his younger sibling – wow! Nice piece.

    May 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

    • Yeah, I guess he was in a good mood. Your comment will no doubt put him in a better mood. Thanks Adam!

      May 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

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