GRILLING TIP: It helps to open the vents below the coals, unless you're sabotaging your dinner, in which case keep them closed like this.
For the first time in a long time, winter actually shut down my grilling activities.
On the upside I learned how to perfectly char a hamburger on the outside while maintaining a consistently dry interior.
? Step 1: Use leftover store-brand charcoal. You know - the stuff that was on sale for half the price of a bag of Kingsford - which is the biggest grilling gaffe you can make other than forgetting to open the vents underneath. I mean it's all charred wood, how can they screw that up?
? Step 2: Dump the coals out of your charcoal chimney before they're fully heated because you want to finish grilling before the sun goes down. (Which reminds me, before Step 1, make sure to start the grilling process at least an hour later than intended or once your 14-year-old son is circling you like a tiger shark waiting for sea turtles to return from laying eggs.)
? Step 3: When you're done clearing out the charcoal ash from early December, remember to leave the vents closed. This may be the most important step, as your coals will now generate just enough heat to warm up a hot dog and fool you into thinking you're actually cooking.
? Step 4: Begin grilling.
? Step 5: As your coals are dying and you realize you are out of charcoal send a family member to the store for Kingsford. During which time you realize the vents are closed. Open them.
? Step 6: Add too much charcoal so when it comes to full heat, it will almost melt the grate. This works best if you are answering "I don't know" to the one millionth inquiry as to when dinner will be ready.
? Step 7: Continue grilling. Look for that nice black crusty outer coating. By this point you should need a flashlight to see what you're doing.
? Step 8: Serve food to the now-starving teen who will consume the burgers in gulps.
? Step 9: Be glad you're just starting your grilling season and have plenty of time to put this behind you.
Mustard obsession: If you want to see what drove Barry Levinson to collect enough mustard that he was able to open the National Mustard Museum with his own private stash, you can check out his story as part of TLC's "My Crazy Obsession" series that airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays. And like any good man, he has a good woman standing behind him saying, "He's totally crazy." You can check out the trailer on TLC's website.
Personally, I'm enjoying the seeds of his obsession in the form of a blue cheese Dijon I picked up during my last visit to the museum and gift shop in Middleton.
Pin it or skip it
Just once I'd like to write a snarky review of something with lots of zingers, which is why I chose to try a cauliflower pizza crust this week. Yup, a cauliflower crust, that's gotta be awful, right? Before I even had the ingredients on the counter I was ready to write a line like ... like ... well ... I'm not sure what, but it would have been clever and witty. Unfortunately this recipe was not as bad as I hoped.
The recipe: Basically you're taking the mozzarella cheese that would normally top your pizza and combining it with shredded cauliflower and eggs to form the bottom of your pizza. It only took a few minutes to mix it together and get it in the oven.
Caution: The recipe suggests making four individual crusts, but I made one big one. The edges were the best part because you got that crispy cheese effect. You'll get more of that with the individual crusts. Also, the cauliflower flavor does come through, though not overpowering. Still you will want to account for this while choosing toppings.
Pin it or skip it: I was ready to skip it but the only person I could convince to try a bite (my wife), really liked it. If you're on a low-carb diet and want something that emulates pizza, this may be worth a pin.
This recipe is on the Veggies board at pinterest.com/foodfamily.