Barbeque’s have never been my forte. In fairness, I’m a dab hand in the kitchen and can concoct all manner of creations, but when it comes to a-lighting the BBQ and doing what needs to be done, I’m in foreign territory. Now, ‘husband’, on the other hand – has managed to eliminate any attempts at assisting in the kitchen over the last few years – unless under duress – but when it comes to taking command of the BBQ, he considers it his domain. In my opinion, his enthusiasm for BBQ duties is probably more to do with being able to stand outside and away from all the kitchen madness, plus ‘legally’ be able to consume a few bottles of local craft ale in the process – all under the guise of ‘helping to cook dinner’.
Now over on this side of the pond, the BBQ is considered an extension of the kitchen. Virtually every house and ‘condo’ owns one, and they’re the normal mode of cooking for most days after the snow has gone. That said, I’ve even had ‘husband’ stood outside in the snow with his gloves, hat, scarf and thermal coat on – plus obligatory bottle of ale – firing the device up, just to sear the tasty steaks for tea. The size of BBQ’s here are akin to the size of Canada itself – they’re on a huge scale. Sat permanently outside our kitchen door on the decking, ours is powered by gas and takes literally 5 mins to get to temperature before you’re off and cooking.
Over the last few weeks, the snow has gone, temperatures are climbing (it’s due to reach 24C this weekend), and the BBQ is back in frequent use. Earlier this week, my BBQ ‘chef’ was on a leave of absence – working in America for a few days – so never being one to be confined by role profiles and lack of training, I plucked up the courage to take the covers off the BBQ and fire it up in his absence. Besides, how hard can it be?
One of the things they do warn about with BBQ’s is to ensure the detritus and grease fat that collects near the burners at the base of the BBQ is cleaned regularly so it doesn’t catch light and start a flare-up. In fact, for the last few weeks I’d been thinking that with more continued use and following the winter thaw, it was looking in desperate need of a clean – but it’s always one of those things that gets added to the list of ‘things to do when I have more time’. Which never seems to happen.
So, husband’s away and changes are afoot. I had only a couple of rashers of bacon so to save me the job of doing it in the kitchen plus having the smell all over the house – I figured that I could surely master cooking on the BBQ. Besides, it would probably only take 5 minutes …… easy.
Things were going well. Bacon was cooking, fat was sizzling, and the smell was divine. I commended myself on my abilities to master yet another skill, concluding that all this need for male-domination of the BBQ was clearly overrated.
Flames started to appear and were growing in intensity. However, it was only when the flames became the BBQ, did I think this was slightly excessive. Mild panic started to set in and rather like the feeling of driving on sheet ice where you become purely a passenger in the process, it was apparently clear that the BBQ had taken the opportunity to seize control and was getting carried away. Hastily switching off all the gas burners, the fire still raged on. My poor bacon had passed the stage of being purely ‘chargrilled’, and even the description of ‘burnt’ was too kind. Incinerated was closer.
It was about this time that I realised the gas canister was still connected, so having visions of creating the biggest gas explosion in south-west Edmonton, I yanked the canister off the bottom of the BBQ and beated a hasty retreat to the end of the garden. The flames raged on……
The smell and colour of the smoke had taken on a different form and I was now weighing up whether to call the fire brigade myself or leave it to one of the neighbours who would no doubt call ‘911’ for me.
Mild panic, heart palpitations and mentally trying to decide if this would be covered under the house insurance – I hollered for my oldest kid. Clearly the prospect of the house burning down was of less interest than the obsession with her iPad. She was nowhere to be seen.
On the front of the BBQ is a temperature gauge. I’d often commented that I’d never seen it go all the way round – well today, I could safely say that it had. Shutting the lid and offering a prayer to the Lord, I was just about to call ‘911’ when I saw the dial start to recede. Flames were still raging but I took this as a positive step in the right direction and held my breath.
15 minutes later, flames had subsided, I felt more in control but was still reeling from the adrenaline overdose that had clearly infiltrated my system. Still expecting fire-fighters to arrive at the front door, my oldest kid emerged onto the decking with the immortal words, ‘what did you want?’, followed by, ‘why’s the gas canister over the other side of the garden?’ …… and, ‘I think you’ve overcooked the bacon’.
Yes. Well, that’ll teach me. I went to Home Depot first thing the next morning and bought the strongest BBQ de-greaser and cleaner I could find.
The BBQ is now standing in pristine condition on the decking once more but it’ll take some convincing before I’ll be doing that again. Upon my husband’s arrival back on Canadian soil he chuckled at my exploits and proclaimed that there was more to cooking on a BBQ than I’d given him credit for – and by the way, could I bring him another beer …….