Thursday, July 3, 2008

Grilling with Toddlers

In the years before we had children, barbecuing was actually fun. I can't say that we did it frequently. And it was the gas grill rather than the charcoal variety. So, while some would scorn us as not true grillers, it worked for cooking up some salmon, chicken or eggplant.

I have yet to say that I have mastered the art of grilling with young children. On the surface it seems so simple. Go outside, turn on the grill. Go inside. When it is preheated, go outside again and put on the meat or veggies. Go inside. Go outside again and see if it is done.

But wait??? Where are the children during all this? That is the conundrum! Either they are inside which means tempting fate that my toddler won't accidentally smother our infant while giving him a hug or a toy (which can be anything from a rattle to a drumstick). Or, alternatively they stay outside which means covering my toddler with layers of sunscreen and a floppy hat while my infant bakes in his carseat.

So, instead we rely on my husband who while a good griller, doesn't always come home from work (actually just down the stairs as he works on our 3rd floor) until 6- a bit late in toddler world for dinner.

Recently, then, on one of those hot summer nights when it was just too steamy to consider cooking outdoors even without children, I rediscovered an old gadget. A number of years ago my grandmother got me and my mother "grill pans." Really, this is simply a non-stick pan with raised edges. The idea is that you can cook items on the stove and the ridges give it a grilled style.

I had just returned from a Trader Joe's trip and was armed with some frozen kalbi, new mango sausages (already cooked-a great convenience food), organic all beef hot dogs for R. and some tofu.

I threw some rice in the rice cooker, the tofu in a teriyaki sauce and then tossed the meat and then the tofu on the pan. I was, honestly, impressed. The tofu was seared, the sauce caramelized, the hot dog was juicy....and all done in an air conditioned kitchen.

Tofu Teriyaki

One block of firm or extra firm tofu
1/4 cup of rice wine
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 T of sugar
minced ginger (optional)
sesame oil (optional)

Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels. Place a heavy object (a can or a heavy plate or skillet work well) on the tofu and let it drain for about 30 minutes. This will just take away some extra moisture. Slice the tofu in slices. My husband likes when I slice them about 1/4 inch thin so that they get crispy. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large dish and put the tofu in to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Lightly oil and preheat the grill pan on medium heat. Cook the tofu on both sides for about 5-10 minutes each until it is gets a bit dark and hot.

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