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Snowed In? No Power? Cook With Your Grill!

As promised! True to my word! At one point over the past week, there were probably a half a million people either unable to leave their homes, travel, and/or had no power because of snow storms in the area between Virginia and New Jersey. Sitting home in the cold and the dark is bad enough; if you are running your kitchen on electricity, it’s cold, dark and hungry too. (and there is that whole ‘how long is the food going to last in the fridge and the freezer?’ thing)

And what I wanted to do was reassure readers that there is nothing you can’t do with a kitchen stove that you cannot do with a grill, gas or charcoal. Now, the DH really made me work for this; I wanted him to put the grill in the entry to the garage so that frankly I’d be out of the wind and the snow (it’s in the mid-20s here and windy today), but he said I had to play it straight so that people would know that even under brutal conditions, this could be done. Well, I don’t know how brutal the conditions were (I kept getting smoke in my eyes, which is why I look sooooo happy there in the videos – I’ll bet Martha Stewart doesn’t have anyone telling HER she has to do demos the hard way), but I picked two things to illustrate just how easy doing this can actually BE: baking bread and making a fritata with potatoes, veggies, eggs and cheese.

A couple of notes and tricks here:
1) Again, don’t bring any grill into your house to cook on under emergency conditions. Period. It’s nice if you can do this on the deck and out of the wind but I did this under wind with a bit of snow. Can be done.
2) Don’t use pots and pans with bakelite(tm) or wooden handles – even if you do not have open flames, you are working with extremely hot coals and those two substances will burn and melt. My bread pan is made of Pyrex(tm) – I covered the outside with aluminum foil and greased the inside. The frying pan is an extremely long-in-the-tooth cast aluminum pan whose handle bit the dust many years ago. Again, I greased it heavily on the inside and also mixed a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in with the chopped up veggies that went into the fritata.
3) Don’t forget the hotpads and oven mitts.
4) If your grill has a temperature gauge, this is great. We started cooking the fritata ingredients when the gauge read 275 degrees, but again, the temperature at the ‘business end’ of the grill (that is, inside the pan) is not necessarily going to be the same; I’m sure it was much higher than 300 given how fast everything cooked. The breadpan was on the upper ‘indirect’ cooking area, both raising and cooking at the same time. After the fritate was done, I moved it to the center, where it would be warmer for the final cooking and browning. The bread was only there for 15 minutes before it was completely baked and brown on the top.
5) If your grill does not have a temperature gauge, use a probe if you have one. If not, use the ‘count to three’ test. If you can hold your hand about 6″ over the grill and it’s hot enough that you can only hold it there for a count of three, the fire is hot enough to cook with. Bank the coals down to a bed.
6) Some other ideas for cooking on the grill if you have:
A heavy cast iron or cast aluminum Dutch Oven with a metal or Pyrex(tm) lid: soup, stew or chili. And once it’s done, you can move the pot over to the side to keep it warm for hours.
A heavy cast iron or cast aluminum griddle: eggs, English muffins from scratch, pancakes, Mexican foods, stir fry.
A heavy aluminum saucepan with either a Pyrec(tm) or a metal lid – you can use this for anything that requires cooking in or heating up liquid: water for coffee or tea, soup, pasta and rice.

There are people out there who take every opportunity to do what is euphemistically called “camp cooking”, and have whole armories of cast iron and heavy enamel cookware that can be used to bake bread, rolls, muffins, cornbread (and cornbread sticks), fry anything, make coffee, you name it. For more information, go GSI
Camping Cookware
Outdoor Cooking
For recipes and all sorts of tips, search on ‘campfire cooking’ and ‘cast iron cooking’.

For the rest of the cooking adventure:

Bon Appetit!

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2 Comments

  1. egregious says:

    Awesome work!!

  2. htwollin says:

    You’ll be happy to know that the camera man and the food prep guy both ate very well after standing out in the cold to help me do those segments!

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