Grow. Eat. Live.

Grow.  Eat.  Live.
Grow. Eat. Live.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013




     Summer is the perfect season to get your "Grill On."  Why?  The weather is nice and no one would want to be couped up in the house using the oven on a scorched hot day.  Right?  I know I don't.  It's hot to put the oven on but not hot to enjoy a nice grilled meat, fish, veggie, or fruit.  The summer season is perfect to save on your gas utility bill, have social gatherings, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

     As technology advances, more appliances are being invented.  Remember the "charcoal grill" was the in thing.  Now, the "gas grill" (profane tanks) are the "new crave" way to go.  But, we cannot forget the "cast iron grill" pan or the electric "George Foreman" grill which is convenient for some people who do not have a backyard or terrace.

     It does not matter what type of grill appliance you may have but how you care for your appliance and how you prepare your food.  Food safety is very important because it affects everyone who would be eating what is cooked.  Keep in mind the following: 

What precautions you have to consider when preparing for a BBQ (barbecue)?
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide protectors inside the home.
  • Fire extinguishers - very important to have on stand by (just in case you need to put an out of control flame quick).
  • Exits - making sure all exit entrance are properly clear and aware.
  • Guest list - who would be coming and has food sensitivities.
  • Bug Prevention - citronella candles, torches, DEET FREE bug spray, mosquitoes plants (geraniums, citronella, and vicks).
  • Sunscreen lotions and umbrellas for shades.
  • Hand sanitizers.
  • Aloe Vera (burn treatments).
  • First aid kits.
  • Oven mitts (HEAT PROOF).
  • Grill utensils and accessories.
  • Food menu  (types of meats you will be cooking and how to prepare it).
  • Ice and storage coolers (essential in keeping foods and beverages at the right temperature).
  • Money budget.
What type of grill you will be utilizing - Gas or Charcoal?

If you are using a Charcoal grilling, then look for additive-free lump charcoal (charred wood).  An alternative to avoiding chemicals and cancer causing toxins in absorbing in your foods.  Please avoid using lighter fluid as well.  Why?  Your grilled food will have a horrible hint of chemical cooked in and a distinct lighter fluid odor in food, clothes, hair, and environment which will linker on for a while.  Look into investing in a "chimney starter."  A chimney starter makes starting a charcoal fire easier.  I found a demo on how to go about using a chimney starter...

Gas grilling is like grilling on a portable stove with burners and control knobs to control temperature of heat.  Gas grills you have to use propane and the propane tanks are reusable.  Gas burns cleaner verses charcoal emits more carbon monoxide, matter, and soot into the atmosphere.

The grill is assembled - what's next?

Preheat your grill at least 25 minutes before you start cooking. Make sure it reaches the temperature to kill any bacteria that may be on the grill rack and for the food.
  • HIGH  400-450 F
  • MEDIUM 350-400 F
  • LOW 250-300 F
*Tip:  A properly heated grill sears foods on contact - keeps insides moist and prevent sticking.

If you have previously been utilizing the grill all summer long or haven't cleaned it since last summer, then take note on the following:

To remove debris left from previous grilling meals utilize a long handled wire grilled brush and scrape off the charred debris from the grill rack.  This should be done when the grill is hot after preheating.

*Tip:  It is best to scrape any debris off the grill rack immediately after use.

An important step you would want to do after cleaning and preheating.
No one likes food sticking to a pan or grill rack, right?  To prevent sticking oil your racks.  You will need the following:
  • Oil (vegetable oil or olive oil)
  • Paper towel
  • Tongs
Saturate the paper towel in the oil.  Take tongs to hold the paper towel and rub the grill racks.

*Tip:  Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.

Health safety avoiding cross-contamination.
Always have separate pans, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked foods (meats, fish, etc.).

Your grill is officially ready to go to work. 

Now, is my food prepared to go on the grill just yet?  I surely hope so because you do not want to have grumpy hungry guests breathing down your back.

*Tips on how to flavor up your meats to insure a tasty favorable and memorable meal your guests will rave about.
  • Marinate all your meats, seafood, vegetables, salads, and fruits the night before. If it's not possible the night before, then hours before grill time.  By marinating your foods it boost the flavor of seasonings to come out and it inhibits the formation of carcinogenic HCAS in which it forms when grilling - poultry, red meats, and fish.  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research it reduces HCA formation by 92-99 percent.
  • Always refrigerate foods while marinating.  Never baste with the same marinating liquid you had the food settling in.  (cross contamination).  Make extra marinade liquid for basting only.
What types of seasonings to use? 

No Lawry's Seasoned Salt PLEASE!
     Learn to create your own seasonings.  This is a good way for you to control the amount of sodium (salt), no preservatives, no artificial coloring, no caking agents, and no MSG (monosodium glutamate).  Go to spice shops or ethnic markets to get those spices and herbs that are not sold in regular supermarkets.  Most of the time you will definitely have to venture out to other areas to find certain spices.  You can get the best bargains most of the time at those small ethnic markets than a supermarket. 

Open your taste buds and palate to various spices

     You can use spices and herbs, such as, turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, peppercorns, cumin, dry mustard, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, smoked paprika, sage, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, lemon balm, mint, cloves, oregano, basil (Thai basil, purple basil), allspice, ginger, garlic, parsley, sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.  The spices and herbs are cancer and disease fighting food medicines that can cut your risk down.

I found several spice blend creations from Good Housekeeping.

These creations can be applied to steak, pork, poultry, beef, fish, lamb, and vegetables.  Do not hesitate in adding more or less ingredients.  As a reminder recipes are made to be revised.

Spicy Peppercorn Rub
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Directions:  Coarsely crush all spices - either by a coffee grinder, rolling pin, mallet, or mortar and pestle. 
Coffee grinder that can be used to grind spices
(I only grind spices with this appliance)

Mortar and Pestle

*Tip:  Recommend using a small coffee grinder.  Makes it much easier.

To bring out the aroma of the spices (seeds) before grinding them you can roast them in a pan on the stove top for 2-3 minutes then coarsely grind them.  Can be stored in an air tight sealed jar or container in a cool dry place.

Sweet Ginger Rub
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or cayenne
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Asian sesame oil
Directions:  In a cup or bowl stir all ingredients.    

Salt-Free Herb Rub
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
Directions:  In a small bowl stir together all ingredients.

Cajun Rub
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Directions:  In a small bowl, mix all ingredients.

Salt-Free Red Chile Rub
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Directions:  In a small bowl mix all ingredients.

Here is famous chef Bobby Flay's Spice Rub for Poultry...

  • 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons pasilla chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon chile de arbol
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions:  Whisk together all spices in a bowl.

We cannot forget to use fresh herbs.  These can be used in salads, ground meats (burgers), stuffed in fish, vegetables, sauces, and mix with fruits.  I found a good herb and spice chart you can use as a guidance as well

Freshly picked herbs from my "Summer 2013 Garden"
Sage, Rosemary, Mint, Lemon Balm, Oregano, and Bay Leaves

Purple Basil, Parsley, Sweet Basil, Oregano, and Sage

The food is on the grill.  Is it done yet?

Chicken breast on a cast iron grill pan

The best way to know if your meats are done (fully cooked) is to check the temperature of the meats with a thermometer.  This accessory tool and chart is imperative to have in your kitchen.

Meat thermometer

Imperative temperature guide to know if meats are fully cooked

What to do when there are flare ups due to fat drips in the flame and catches fire?
The flare ups causes carcinogenic PAHS to form and accumulate on your food.  The flames will char the outside of the food before the inside is thoroughly cooked. 
Reduce flare ups by:
  1. Use lean cuts of meat.
  2. Trim excess fat.
  3. Remove poultry skin.
  4. Keep a squirt bottle of water handy near the grill.
  5. Use a low heat setting.
  6. Oil the grill rack.
  7. Placing meat or vegetables on sheet of foil. (Poke holes to let fat drip)
*Imperative to stay clear of burned charred foods, such as, burgers, hot dogs, and meats.
Why?  Consuming charred meats increases your risk in developing pancreatic cancer by 60% percent according to research studies.  Cooking foods at high temperatures on the grill causes chemicals called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form.  These chemicals causes damage in your DNA in which it leads to cancer.

*Tip:  Remove all burned or charred off of foods before eating.
 Cut back on grill time.  Do not grill foods for extended amount of time - use foods that cook quick or make skewered kebab's with cubes of meats.

Try to avoid process meats - hot dogs.  (I know a BBQ is not the same without a hot dog then buy NO NITRATES & NO PRESERVATIVES  hot dogs and sausages. 

*According to the American Institute for Cancer Research eating process meats/foods with nitrates and preservatives increase your risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.

Grilled vegetables or fruit is a good alternative to eating meats and reduces your risk to certain cancers.

Always have vegetables side dishes at the table

Always have fresh fruit as a side dish at the table
"Diced pineapples and mangoes"

Try adding bright colorful vegetables on the table.  It will boost your mood.

Raw Red Cabbage with Watercress Salad in a no mayonnaise dressing

My food is properly cooked.  Now, what?

Lay your foods on a nice clean serving plate.  Let it rest before indulging.  Cover with foil for 10 minutes to let the juices settle and spread evenly.
* Clean the grill.  Scrape down the grill when done cooking to get rid of the carcinogenic residue that builds up.  You do not want to transfer leftover chemicals to the next time you grill.

Here are some suggestions that can help prepare you for your BBQ gathering:

It's nice to have a floral centerpiece for your table.  Flowers improves your mood- decreasing anxiety and depression.

Having some type of entertainment at a BBQ makes it exciting and fun.  (music and games)

 An important thing to consider is - will you be having alcohol beverages?

 The event is over...

The dreadful cleaning up!

Garbage must be tidy up properly and put outside

Depending on your neighborhood - garbage with food definitely needs to be properly secured outside.  Otherwise, you will most likely find these creatures lurking in the night destroying the garbage bags and knocking down the cans.


     After doing all these steps, I officially crown you "THE GRILL MASTER."

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