When I left the gym this afternoon it was a balmy 65 degrees, and I drove home with the windows down. I haven’t completely given up on snow, but it’s starting to feel as though the standard winter colors of Virginia are mud brown, mud red, and mud gray. And sky gray too. Bah. The silver lining, of course, is that warmer weather = grilling weather. After a winter of neglect – I’m no longer as hardcore a winter griller as I once was – there are a few things we all need to do to get ready.
Clean and inspect the grill
If you completely cleaned and winterized your grill at the end of the season, way to go NERD. The rest of us mere mortals never seem to get it together like that. A warm day is now a good time to open the lid and see what shameful mess you left behind. Get the grill nice and clean, and also check to make sure everything is in working order. If something is broken, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, replace the grill. Fire is good, unless it’s when and/or where we don’t want it. Then FIRE BAD, right Frankenstein? A clean, working grill is a safe grill.
What kept you from grilling more last year?
Now is a good time to reflect back on how often you grilled out compared to how often you wish you had. What got in the way? Usually it’s a matter of function: there was no good place to prep or set stuff down, or there was a lot of stupid stuff that had to be hauled outside every time, then hauled back in when you were done. Those are easy fixes.
Would a prep counter have made grilling more enjoyable? I’m always a fan of fancy outdoor kitchens, but there are plenty of creative ways to make a cool looking, functional prep space without breaking the bank. Why not a couple of wine barrels and planks? Even a dedicated prep table is better than what a lot of people have.
Would you have grilled more if you could store the essentials closer to the grill? My clients who are serious outdoor kitchen fanatics keep dishes, utensils, and even some basic spices and paper goods close at hand. With a little creativity, you can find a storage system that works for you that stands up to the elements.
Get better lighting
If you’re using your phone’s flashlight app to see how done your meat is, you’re borrowing trouble. Just wait till that brand new iPhone flies out of your fingers and falls through the grate. If your grill doesn’t have built-in task lighting, there are a few manufacturers who make excellent standalone BBQ lights. They can be permanently mounted on your counter, or they can clamp onto a more temporary counter or the side of your grill.
You can also add overhead lighting. We set up Prime Patio lights in our backyard and the light level is amazing – and my grill isn’t even directly under them! Sure, I’ve grilled while holding a flashlight between my teeth, but that’s no way to do it. Trust me.
I love grilling, which is why I love designing and installing outdoor kitchens. If you’re getting ready to set up an amazing outdoor kitchen in your backyard, contact me today. I’d love to see how we can help you!