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You mean you can cook with fire??

My first primitive efforts at cooking with fire

The abbey’s back deck has been woefully underused in the seven years that the abbey has been occupied. This is because there was no furniture and no creature comforts. I had been on the lookout for deck furniture, but I never seemed to come across something that was simple, reasonably tasteful, reasonably durable, and reasonably affordable. Plus the projects list was always so long. And then today at Lowe’s hardware I came across a bistro set, on sale. I bought it. Then I went to a local store that had big umbrellas on sale. Suddenly the deck was furnished.

The temperature reached 96 degrees today. And yet I was extremely surprised to find the deck entirely habitable. The umbrella keeping the sun off, of course, made a huge difference. Plus, the woods are very close. If any breeze at all is stirring, cool air washes out of the woods.

As I sat at the bistro table drinking fresh-made lemonade and eating canteloupe, I realized that another dream was suddenly within reach: the dream of cooking outside with fire. I already knew the price of gas grills because I already had admired them at Lowe’s. The abbey is a small establishment. A modest two-burner grill would certainly do. And so back to Lowe’s I went.

I am a total novice at cooking with fire. My condo in San Francisco had a communal gas grill in the solarium on the roof, and I used it occasionally. But still I’m a novice. I didn’t really have proper roasting vegetables on hand, but I made do with potatoes, onions, and the last ear of the three-for-a-dollar Whole Foods corn.

Holy smoke! What is it about the primitive taste of fire cooking that speaks to our primitive natures? Was it Michael Pollan who called human beings “the cooking apes”? These covered gas grills are interesting devices. They can serve as ovens, and there’s a thermometer on it. It won’t be long before I experiment with baking bread in it — probably sourdough.

And on my next primitive trip to Whole Foods, I will certainly concentrate on roastable foods.

There’s a very practical side to fire cooking in this hot weather. It keeps all that heat outside the house.

Just as my roasted vegetables and veggie burger got done, a light rain began to fall. As often happens, the bulk of the storm went to the north. But a light rain and a refreshing breeze were making soothing ocean sounds in the woods, and the on-sale umbrella was keeping me completely dry at the on-sale bistro table.

I think I may spend the rest of the summer outdoors.




  1. Brother Doc wrote:

    Looks like a nice deck set up and it’s good you got a deal on the furniture–did Lowe’s also have that gas grill on sale? Have been eyeing one just that size!

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Brother Doc… Alas, the grill was not on sale. It was $189. I believe the stainless steel version is identical at $289. That does not include the propane tank, but I already happened to have one tucked away for emergency cooking. That actually helps justify the cost of a gas grill — you can cook if the power is out.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  3. DCS wrote:

    YES, YES, YES. This is exactly what the Abbey has needed. You also need a roasting basket for veggies on the grill. I will bring one to you as a gift to celebrate Summer Solstice. We’ll have a toast to Baal!


    Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  4. Henry wrote:

    Hi David

    Great story…enjoy a simpler way of cooking


    Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

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