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Sizzlin’ summer BBQ tips

Christine Illes
Features Writer

No summer could be complete without outdoor family cookouts, and of course no cookout would be complete without the grill. Grilling is one of the many things associated with summer, and the meals always turn out delicious.
There are many precautions you must take before you fire up the grill for the first time this upcoming season, regardless if you have a charcoal, propane or gas grill. Busycooks.about.com provides a few grilling tips before you throw on the food.
1. Make sure your grill is on a heatproof surface away from the house, bushes or trees. Don’t think about grilling indoors, even in the garage.
2. Inspect your grill by making sure it’s clean, that the cover fits correctly and that there are no cracks or holes in the grill pan.
3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided with your grill on how to light it.
4. If you have a charcoal grill, keep in mind that it takes 30 to 45 minutes for your grill to reach the proper temperature. You will be able to tell when it is ready when gray ash forms evenly over the briquettes.

Summer grilling is an American pasttime.
Summer grilling is an American pasttime.

5. Remember the two cooking methods of grilling: direct and indirect heat cooking. For direct heat cooking, food is placed directly on the grill racks. Indirect heat cooking is used for more delicate foods and for longer cooking times used for larger cuts of meat. The grill is always covered in indirect heat cooking.
6. Never leave your grill unattended!
If you are inexperienced at grilling, busycooks.about.com and foodnetwork.com provide instructions and more tips for grilling in order to make your grilling experience a good one.
Now that you know how to fire up the grill, it’s time to decide what food to cook. There are many types of foods that can be grilled to perfection, but meat is the most popular. The list below provides many options for grilling foods, along with a few other options from thedailymeal.com for those who don’t eat meat.

1. Steak
There is something about a nice grilled, juicy steak that leaves the mouth watering. There are many different cuts of steak, such as the New York Strip or Filet Minion, and the cooking time varies for each. If you want to spice up a plain steak, there are many marinades out there to try.

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2. Chicken
You can never go wrong with grilling chicken. With all of the marinades and spices out there, there are many routes you can take when it comes to flavor. You can go from making a nice, sweet orange marmalade to a spicy barbeque sauce.

3. Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
A classic for the grill; hot dogs and hamburgers are quick and easy to make and perfect for large summer parties and cookouts. There are many toppings you can put on and many recipes out there to spice them up. If you aren’t crazy about beef burgers, consider trying turkey, chicken or even fish burgers.

4. Seafood
There are various kinds of seafood that are great for the grill; however, you have to grill seafood with care. Fish is very delicate and also very easy to overcook. Shrimp is delicious grilled, but you have to keep their small size in mind and make sure they do not fall through. Jumbo shrimp is best, but skewers can help with that problem. Oysters also come out very tasty when they are grilled. Don’t worry about shucking them- they will pop open when they are ready.

5. Ribs
A necessity for a barbeque cookout. They can be messy, but you can get very creative with them, especially when it comes to making a glaze.

Tomatoes and mushrooms are great vegetables for the grill.
Tomatoes and mushrooms are great vegetables for the grill.

6. Fruits and Vegetables
Surprisingly, there are a variety of fruits and vegetables you can throw on the grill. Some of the most popular include corn on the cob, asparagus, potatoes, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and even bananas. A grilled banana split is a highly recommended dessert.

7. Tofu
Tofu is known for being bland, but the grill can easily change that. Grilling tofu gives it a smoky flavor, and spreading a sweet and spicy marmalade on it will make it taste even better. If you want to try grilling tofu, go for firm. It doesn’t take very long to grill either, only five minutes on each side.

8. Shish-ka-bobs
There are several different ways of making ka-bobs. You can pair different kinds of meat on a skewer or even go with both meats and vegetables.

9. Quesadillas
Grilling quesadillas gives the tortillas a nice crispiness and a smoky flavor. Make sure to coat the racks with cooking spray to prevent sticking and to cook them until the cheese is nice and melted.

10. Pound Cake
This can turn into a delicious summer dessert. Try using ready-made pound cake to speed up cooking time. Don’t forget to eat it with your favorite ice cream and fruit! Strawberries are the most popular, but peaches and pineapple will go great with it as well.
Don’t be afraid to try new recipes; try doing a Google search and see what you find. There are many websites that provide great recipes for foods on the grill. It’s time to get out there and grill!