It started as one of those days. You know, when everything looks a little brighter, a little more colorful, a little more alive. The sun slowly reveals the colors all around me.
The crisp, morning air invigorates, and practically begs me to stick around, stay outside, take in these refreshing breaths that cleanse my soul, awaken my mind, and heighten my senses. At this precise moment, even with that coffee cup in my hand, I know that sometime today, sooner or later, my grill will be sending out plumes of aromatic smoke, and it’s gonna be a good day.
When the time is right, the grill is rolled out to “the spot”, the area that feels the best on this particular day. No, it’s not always the same spot. It couldn’t be. It wouldn’t be. And it shouldn’t be. Different views will yield different results.
The familiar sound of the wheels rolling on the flagstone alert the family dogs of things to come. With ears cocked, and eyes fixed, they’re aware, and they approve. They are fans, and I appreciate their interest and confidence.
The lid is lifted, the grill is cleaned. The aforementioned “ritual” has begun, and the commitment has been made.
My choice is usually wood, meaning the cooking fuel. I like to dump the wood or coals into the pit, and then carefully look it over. Of course I have to rearrange the pieces, fitting them together like some sort of crazy Rubik’s cube of BBQ. But they all have to work together, right? Of course they do, and they will, with no hesitation.
And then the grill is lit. It may take a minute or two, but……………Yeah, there it is, that small, initial puff of white smoke that signals the fire is starting. It’s just a little, thin puff, but it signifies that the grill has accepted my request, and in a few minutes, will be spreading the smell of burning wood and clouds of puffy, kind of white, kind of blue smoke throughout my backyard. I’m excited, happy, and anxious all at the same time.
The popping and cracking of the wood signify the readiness of the fire, and yet I have no immediate plans to do anything with this fire except enjoy its presence on this cool, beautiful afternoon. In fact, at various, random times, I will likely throw a handful of wood chips on this fire just to watch the smoke rise and smell the aromatic scents of apple, cherry, pecan, hickory, or even sassafras wood. It’s my own take on aromatherapy, and it works every time.
This can go on for quite a while, to be honest with you. It’s easy for me to get lost in the activity.
But, after tending and caring for this fire, and feeding it enough to get it to a perfect state, one may consider it foolish to not use it for its true, intended purpose. And that is just what I decided to do. No complicated recipes, no marinades or brines that take hours to prepare. No. Today, we are all about simple and easy. All that is needed is our semi secret pork rub and a couple of slabs of boneless country-style pork ribs, which suspiciously resemble a sliced pork loin.
With a good massage and an equally good location on the grill, the pork is laid gently on the grates. Even more sweet apple wood is added onto the glowing embers, creating the dancing smoke that will weave itself into the meat with the gracefulness of the ocean’s tide.
While waiting for the fire to work its magic on our future dinner, I couldn’t help but think that this could have been a near perfect day to visit one of our great regional wineries, but then, what’s to stop me from making that happen right here. So with a subtle “pop” of the cork, the wine was poured and enjoyed as it should be, within a relaxed environment with no time constraints.
A little while later, the pork loin was also enjoyed, making the day complete.
But for this great day, the food itself was only one ingredient, and perhaps not even a major one. You see, it’s not always about the food. Not with me, at least. It’s the ritual. It’s the obsession. It has to be, because, after all…..
Life Is Better Wood Fired.