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Cook Out this Summer

Summer is coming upon us, fast. As you think over your strategies to reduce the cost of your power bill during the hot months, here is an alternative that grill lovers can really embrace, do your cooking outside, especially when it is hot.

Of course you are going to check your caulking and weather stripping, clean filters and the outside AC equipment, have an AC tune up, and resolve to set the temperature up at least two degrees. But when it is really hot, why cook in the kitchen and inject all that heat into your comfy, cool living space? Time to take it outside. In fact, when your cooperative calls on members to help Beat the Peak on hot days, delaying cooking until later in the evening is a common recommendation. What’s better than delaying? Grilling!

As a grilled food lover, any excuse to fire up the grill is good enough to get me outside. So, what is your grilling style? Are you a propane or natural gas person who likes to turn the valve and press the igniter or a charcoal aficionado who wants the higher heat and smoky flavor of real wood? I fall into the latter category and have graduated in the last few years to lump charcoal. It has much better flavor and burns a lot hotter. So much hotter that it has warped my charcoal grate. For an extensive list of lump charcoal reviews, try this unfortunately named website: Charcoal Reviews

Recently I came across an American-made product that got me interested in smoking on the grill again. Soaking chips or buying cans of “smoke” never worked for me. This new gadget is a perforated stainless steel tube that you fill with pellets in the wood flavor of your choice. They remind me of the fuel for pellet stoves. Add a little fire start gel at the open end and light. Boy, does it work well and is basically hassle free. You can cold smoke with it too, perfect for cheese, hard boiled eggs, etc. I made up the following concoction and cold smoked it.

Tom’s Fruit, Peppers, Cream Cheese, and Bacon
2 crisp apples – your favorites
2 Bartlett pears, not too ripe
4 jalapeños
4 – you decide strips of bacon (If you have never tried Neuskes, I suggest giving it a whirl.)
Cream cheese
Scallions

Fry up your strips of bacon. Drain and crumble.
Mix with cream cheese and scallions.
Cut jalapeños in half and remove the seeds.
Fill with the cheese mixture and put back together.
Core apples and pears so the stuffed peppers can fit inside.
Put the prepared fruit on an aluminum pan/foil and place in the grill.

Light you smoker, put on the cover, and let it run for 30 minutes. If you want the fruit a little warmer, fire up the grill in the last 5 – 10 minutes. Your grill will be ready to cook the rest of the meal by the time the smoker is finished.

Enjoy the fruit, pepper, cheese, and bacon as hors devours while working your grilling magic. Your house will stay cooler and dinner will have that fabulous grilled taste.

Bon appetit!

You can learn more about the smokers at Amazen Products
And learn about Neuskes at Nueskes