Grill it good.

May 26, 2008

Here in the U.S., it’s Memorial Day. That means a few things:

  1. Federal Holiday. Both Hubs and I have the day off.
  2. Parades, usually of the military veteran variety.
  3. Typically, Yuck-Weather, at least here in Washington State. Lookin’ grey as of now. Let’s hope for some sunnies.
  4. The Official Start of Grilling Season. Let the propane fumes fly!

Given that our indoor range is busted, Mr. WeeLivin’ and I have already broken out our tiny hibachi on a few occasions. But we’ve been perplexed about how to grill green. Certainly, non-compostable coals pre-soaked in lighter fluid — toxic! toxic! and probably, in reality, a weird cocktail of things like llama spit and liquid nitrogen — that come in a non-recyclable waxed-paper sack aren’t green. (And it probably isn’t very healthy to cook food over llama-spit-and-nitrogen-covered rocks anyhow.) But aren’t those the only options? What’s a Living Smaller to do?

Enter the Dwell blog, and Audrey Tempelsman’s savior post, Green Grilling. Aha! Read on for her tips.

While propane grills are more enviro than charcoal ones, Tempelsman says, there is still hope for those of us with baby bbqs. One way to green the grill is the charcoal choice:

Steer away from charcoal containing petroleum products, sodium nitrate, coal dust, limestone or other greenhouse gas-emitting chemicals. Opt instead for wood-based briquets, like those from Nature’s Grilling Products. The Colorado-based company culls wood from Mexican forests, without cutting down trees, and sells its products through Whole Foods.

Another option is Cowboy Charcoal, which sells lump charcoal made of flooring and furniture factories’ wood scraps. Char-Broil products certified by The Rainforest Alliances’ SmartWood program are also worth a look.

We found Cowboy Charcoal at our local Trader Joe’s, and used it to grill up some phat yam fries and asparagus. Good fuel, good times. And it’s made from factory offal. Double plus good fuel, good times. And it comes in a plain, kraft paper sack, which is totally kosher in the recycling and/or handicrafts world.

What’s more, charcoal is almost endlessly reusable. Well, not quite endlessly, but it’s definitely worth a relight or two. So don’t let your coals burn unnecessarily: once your grub is done, top the grill and shut the vents (if applicable) to stanch the sparks. Once those natural, wood-based coals have petered out completely, toss ’em in the compost bin. Win, win, win.

Tempelsman counsels against lighter fluid (duh. Liquid nitrogen? Llama spit?), and instead suggests using a charcoal chimney and some old newspaper.

Okay, so we don’t have a charcoal chimney — basically, a tall metal cylinder with holes punched in the sides that keeps all of the coals’ heat in a single, compact area — but I think we can Cub Scout it and build a charcoal pyramid with the dailies crumpled up inside. We don’t get the paper, so I enacted a recycling recovery and came up with both fire fuel and the funny pages. Awesome.

Tempelsman even discusses the greenest food for your ‘q, which, naturally, includes locally grown veggies (we found ours at the Broadway Farmers Market; for those in other parts of the city/county/region, here are some market locators) and, for those omnivores in the audience, sustainably butchered animal flesh.

There you have it, thanks to Audrey Tempelsman. Kudos.

Grill it good, people!

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2 Responses to “Grill it good.”

  1. Justin The (BBQ) Man said

    We’re lucky enough to live next door to a dying tree, which means and endless supply of natural hardwood for grilling. We burn through it pretty quickly, but the smoke makes the meat and produce taste great. It’s a local, green alternative to commercially produced charcoal. I understand it’s not a solution for the masses. I have, however, just become more aware of the diverse opportunities to live small. Once you start thinking small, opportunities seem to present themselves.

  2. Wild, isn’t it? It’s just a frame of mind, I’ve found. That’s part of what keeps me from spreeing at Nordstrom Rack, among other things.

    Cool about your tree charcoal, BBQ Man.

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