Whether you consider grilling a sport or an art, cooking outdoors calls for the right equipment.
For the beginning barbecuer, a group of essential pieces includes:
(Note that wood handled-tools need to be hand-washed to protect the wood finish. With natural-bristle basting brushes, use plenty of hot, soapy water to remove oils. Rinse well, smooth the bristles, and allow to air dry.)
For the experienced outdoor cook, the lineup of new products to add to your repertoire is better than ever.
If you have ever tried to turn fish with tongs and a spatula, you'll appreciate a superwide spatula designed for turning whole fish.
Metal skewers for kebabs, difficult to find, are sturdy and reusable. If you use bamboo skewers, soak them for 30 minutes before loading them. And remember to restock.
If you enjoy grilling vegetables or small pieces of food such as shrimp, the vegetable grill topper will keep those smaller pieces from falling through the grid.
Special serving dishes include barbecue platters, individual corn dishes, or tortilla holders for festive tables indoors or outdoors. Colorful nonbreakable dishes and glassware for outdoor dining add to the presentation.
For those who picnic or potluck, disposable cookware called Reynolds Pot Lux Cookware is strong enough to bake, microwave, serve, freeze, or carry food in the same container. Four sizes include a 2-quart and 3-quart casserole, a 13-by-9-inch pan, and an 8-inch square brownie pan. The containers include a cover and range in recommended price from $2.99 to $3.99.
To add to the assortment of woods and grilling equipment, BBQr's Delight smoking wood pellets come in 12 flavors such as mesquite, apple, maple, walnut, and Jack Daniel's. It takes only 1/3 cup to achieve maximum flavor.
There is even the Original Grill Pad deck protector, a flexible fiber cement protective blanket that is placed under outdoor fryers, smokers, and charcoal or gas grills to protect deck and patio surfaces from grease stains and incidental sparks, or debris. Manufactured by DiversiTech Corp., it is available at home centers and hardware stores in various sizes with prices beginning at $24.95.
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.