The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

No One Grills in This Weather

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The title of this blog is part of what someone said to me recently and every time I think of it a smile comes to my face and I shake my head. I hope it has the same effect on you. The full version of the line was: “Everybody knows no one grills in this weather.” and it was uttered by a cashier at Lowes back in December.

It was December 30, 2011 and I was out and about doing my shopping for my
BEEF WELLINGTON dinner. One of the things I like about grocery shopping in the winter is you can go to the stores in any order because the groceries are kept refrigerated by the outside air temps. My last stop was to be Lowes to pick up charcoal. I’d managed to be a bad boy and let myself get down to 1/2 bag of Stubbs all-natural hardwood briquettes. These are the only all natural briquette product I can seem to find in the winter. Lowes carries the Stubbs brand and seems to keep them in stock throughout the winter. I’d been in this Lowes at the beginning of December and they were getting a bit low on the charcoal. I was a little nervous that I had waited till the end of the month to pick up some charcoal. I was hoping they had gotten some more in. I didn’t feel like spending more time this day driving around trying to find a Lowes with a good stock. I wasn’t greedy, I was hoping for 3 bags, but I could live with 2.

As I entered the grill department, I panicked. Where was the grill department? I didn’t see any of the grills that are usually out in a large open floor area. Then I looked a little farther back in the store and I saw about half the normal amount of grills had been set up there. I looked where the charcoal and grill accessories were and I had a second mini heart attack. There was only one, not two, side aisles devoted to grilling and I didn’t see any charcoal, just a bunch of empty palettes where the charcoal had been. When I got a little closer, I could see 4 yellow bags of Stubbs charcoal way back in the rear corner of the rear palette. I breathed a BIG sigh of relief as I crawled onto the palettes to collect the 4 bags.

I brought the bags up to the check out area and when the cashier saw what I was buying, she said: “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” She continued by saying “Is that stuff on sale or something?” I told her that not only was it most definitely NOT on sale, it was about $1.00 more a bag than I’d paid last time I stocked up. She said: “Boy I don’t understand it then. We have been open for 2 hours and you are the fourth person who has come to my register with a bunch of bags of that charcoal.” I told her I would be the last person she sees because I was buying the last 4 bags they had. She was surprised and said “OMG that palette was 2/3 full at the beginning of this week.” It turns out she had been working in the adjacent aisle packing up Christmas related items on Monday. Friday 4 days later it was empty. She said: “I really don’t get it then, if it isn’t on sale why are we selling out of it.
Everybody knows no one grills in this weather.”

I told her that I grill and smoke all year and furthermore New Years was a big day for folks grilling or smoking their holiday meals. Everyone was probably stocking up this week in preparation for their New Years cook. “Why would someone want to be outside in the cold weather using their grill?” I explained to her that folks who like grilling and smoking feel it is the best way to prepare their food. So for a special meal they are going to want to grill or smoke it. I thought I almost had her convinced, or at least considering the possibilities. I could tell by the look on her face, she wasn’t quite there yet. She ended our conversation by saying: “You sure wouldn’t catch me out in this weather standing at a grill.”

As I was driving home I began thinking about the charcoal again. While I wasn’t surprised that folks were stocking up for New Years, I was surprised by the amount of charcoal they blew through in the last week in December. I guess the are more of us out there than I even imagined. Now that I know this little factoid I will be sure to go out earlier than I did this time, so I won’t get shut out.

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