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Column: Ketchup Sammies?

One of my favorite parts of summer in the Treasure State is being able to sit outside in the evenings.

I have a beautiful view from my back porch, and I often spend hours in the evening enjoying it.

When I’m doing this, I often like to get something on the grill for dinner. Last year I was not able to enjoy outdoor cooking quite as much. At one point, the grill I had looked like a champion, but after buying it used, it finally ran its course and would barely produce heat. I hated cooking in a hot house, so I was elated when my mom bought me a pellet grill for my birthday.

I have been outside several days a week since mid-May figuring out how to use it, and have cooked quite a few different things. I will first have to say that while some of the dishes have turned out great, they will never produce the results of an authentic smoke-like Justin at Blue Smoke Barbecue. I sometimes get a little bit of seasonal depression when the Blue Smoke food truck is closed for the season, and I cannot get a fix a couple of times a month. While some people are daydreaming of riches or vacations, I daydream about the brisket from Blue Smoke,

For the most part, everything I have tried on the new grill has been pretty good, and I’m working my way up to try and cook something a little larger, like a picnic roast for some pulled pork.

A couple of times, I was not paying good enough attention, and the result was a dry main entry. Usually, my food turns out pretty good, and I take a lot of pride in it, but occasionally I will serve up a dud.

Thinking back on some of the meals I’ve destroyed over the years, I will never forget dropping a take-and-bake pizza in the bottom of the oven and making a turkey so dry that you needed a gallon of water between each bite.

What I find amusing is probably the grossest thing I ever cooked was eaten with so much enjoyment that I could not believe it.

A few years ago, I was living in Washington state, and my girlfriend asked if I could go over and spend some time with her grandmother at her parents’ house. The parents had to run out of town, and my girlfriend had to work, so I didn’t mind spending a few hours out of my day helping out.

The grandmother was originally from Mexico and did not speak much English, and I only know a few Spanish words, so there was a bit of a communication barrier. Instead of conversing, we just watched some Spanish “soap operas” with the subtitles on. They were completely over the top, and I loved it.

Around lunchtime, I decided to make us a couple of sandwiches, and she came into the kitchen as I gathered the food from the pantry and fridge. As I started to make sandwiches for the two of her, she pointed at the refrigerator and said, “ketchup .” I was flabbergasted that she wanted ketchup with a turkey sandwich, but I grabbed it anyway. I have an aunt whose kids eat ketchup with a full turkey dinner, which is always quite the inside joke with my mom and sisters.

As I was assembling the sandwiches, she looked at me like I was crazy. She then uttered the words I will never forget, “ketchup sandwich.”

After a few seconds, I realized she did not want turkey or any other lunch meat or vegetable; she only wanted ketchup.

I had never seen anyone eat a ketchup sandwich, and I was horrified making it.

The two of us sat at the table and I have never seen anyone take so much joy in my food. She ate three and wanted a fourth one, but luckily we ran out of bread. I didn’t want to tell my girlfriend or her parents that I had just fed grandma four ketchup “sammies”.

I didn’t always get a long with my girlfriend at the time, but she would always let me know that Grandma sure did love her afternoon with me. I felt proud I could make her happy.

I’m not sure if I can do a ketchup sandwich on a pellet grill, but maybe I’ll try one day, although I’m sure there will not be as many smiles this time.

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