Our Grill’s New Job

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Our grill has been a standard in our house for a number of years.  While living in Ohio, we have used it in January and whenever it seemed appropriate.  (When you are hungry for something grilled and weenies at the fireplace is not enough, you have to choose the grill!)  Our first Texas grill went through a couple of cooking surfaces before we realized we could do better and cheaper over the long term.  Our grill has been friendly with chicken (with many different glazes and configurations) for a number of years.  This year our grill became an herbivore. (Depending on the night of the week, it is a vegetarian.)  Yes, it has had a few skewers of chicken and veggies on it before.  As the pictures shows, it is meatless with only a little olive oil to give it a slight feeling of being manly.

Our grill did not become a “sometimes” eunuch over night.  It has been a gradual process.  A process that began accelerating in the spring.  My daughters, specifically my oldest daughter, wanted to eat better.  However, since we like our hamburgers, brats, mac n’ cheese, and other comfort foods, it was not enough for her to make this resolution for just herself.  She began discouraging us (If you knew this daughter, discouraging is a mild word.  Buying something like a few gummy bears at Sprouts would make her throw every form of guilt she could at you.  And, if I was at Walmart and came home with a couple packages of knock-off Oreos, she would give me the “Do-you-really-love-me?” treatment.  When I say persuasive on this issue, it is only scratching the surface of what goes on.  She is the “anti-catalyst” for sweets entering your mouth and any enjoyment that might happen afterwards.) from participating in sweet things.  She does still allow slight caloric sins, but compared to most teenage girls, she is very disciplined in this area.

Although we had visited Sprouts prior to her being possessed by this creature with mild-to-severe “allergies” to sugar, the girls became much more excited about these visits in the spring.  Once we were bored with Sprout’s offerings, we had to mix it up a little bit.  Although Trader Joes is not as convenient, we have wondered there a couple of times to allow her to seek out various ingredients.  (They also have the black mango tea I like.)  With Whole Foods opening up close to our home, the variety of healthy-food shopping options makes it almost impossible for us to “not” find certain ingredients she needs for her various health food mixes, smoothies, and/or other concoctions she believes will give her body the respect it demands.  And, now, with the arrival of our Asian exchange students and their desire to maintain multiple appearances of fruit (strawberries, raspberries, melons etc) and vegetables at every meal, it appears we are locked into this “healthy” cycle for at least another 9 months.

If vegetables would immediately be flavorful, we would not have had to invite the grill to our pseudo-vegetarian party.  As good as baked beans can be and as bad as microwaved corn can be, it seemed crazy to NOT invite the grill sooner.  We suffered through endless zucchini-ish veggies mixes sauteed on the stove.  We ate bland green beans, and if we were lucky we might get a sweet potato or two.  Broccoli with cheese sauce may be yummy, but it does not scream healthy.   With our vegetable past being less than cordial, we just needed to break down and let the grill convince us it could create “happy” flavors in the veggies we offered it.

In the image above, there are eggplant(we have grilled w/ and w/o the skin.  The skin is not good to eat [our Asians liked it], but it does hold the eggplant “meat” together very well.), red peppers (previously, we only grilled to include in our hummus) , zucchini and yellow squash.  (We also do onions, but none present on this night.)  After flipping a few times and dabbing in olive oil, they usually come out pretty well.  The heat is down all the way when cooking.  After dabbing with the oil, the fire sometimes starts licking its lips in anticipation of a sacrifice.  A shuffling of the grills contents usually brings the fire back into submission.  We are still fiddling with the thickness of the zucchini and squash.  If cut to thin, they burn fast.  If too fat, they are a little on the mushy side.  A couple of evenings ago, we cooked up 6 small zucchini, 2 squash, 1 onion and 1 pepper.  Nothing was left at the end of the meal.

Whatever my daughter(s) motivation for  pulling/tugging/shoving us down this pathway, I am glad we have all jumped on it together.  (With my wife doing a pretty particular diet, she does not always actively participate in our recent meals with the higher vegetable percentage.)   As a significant birthday awaits me later this year, I am glad to be able to gain awareness and a pathway to healthier eating.  (I am still convinced we didn’t eat badly before.  We are just eating better now.)  As I continue to enjoy my family and look forward to what a long life might offer, I will gladly modify any corner of my life that needs sandpaper.  I guess I will go to Whole Foods and see if they have a sandpaper squash….

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