Is your junk mail pile filled with seasonal store circulars? Before tossing them out perhaps you should circle back over and take a closer look. Recently, I found them to a treasure trove of culinary tips and products to turn my grilling season from good to great. I won't be so quick to confine them to the trash pile in the future.
Because the leaflets are advertising specials, prices were also illuminating with even non-sale prices reasonable, ranging from $8.99 for a Himalayan salt slab cleaning brush and $9.99 for an attachable grill light, to $39.99 for cedar grilling planks. In case you, too, could beef up your barbecuing, following are the types of products that enlightened me.
HEAD TO THE HIMALAYAS
Not only does the Himalayas, the Asian mountain range separating India from the Tibetan plateau, have many of the world's highest peaks like Mt. Everest, it has salt to yearn for. Slabs and accompanying products have invaded our culinary and home stores, I learned from a national chain's flyer I received and then a quick search online. Grilling on a Himalayan salt slab the chains now sell adds intense, complex flavors. Specially sized platters for the grill, as well as slab cleaning brushes with bristles and scrapers, complete an ensemble.
PICK UP SOME PLANKS
Wood chips used with a grill always have imparted smoky flavor to food, but the newer trend of large cedar planks work with either charcoal or gas grills and draw raves. The flavor is transferred by cooking your meal right on top of a plank. Another welcome additional product: hardwood charcoal.
SIMMER YOUR SAUCE
Small cast-iron saucepots are made to warm your barbecue sauce right on the grill for basting and then accompanying the finished meal. Elevated bases mean sauces shouldn't burn.
PRESS IT PRONTO
Heavy metal pre-seasoned cast iron grill presses make sure that meat, especially thin cuts, cook evenly on the grill, or that meats like bacon don't curl up when heating. They also work well for making panini or other sandwiches on the grill.
COP SOME COPPER
For its nonstick and other cooking prowess, copper pans have been the rage lately. My home store circular, though, also alerted me to inexpensive copper grill mats that allow foods to cook more evenly.
LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
As the sun sets on another seasonal meal, sometimes it becomes difficult to see the nuances of what you are cooking. Flexible arm clip-on battery-powered grill lights brighten up everything.
AFTER-WORK GOURMET COOKBOOK SHELF
"Better Homes & Gardens Jams & Jellies: Spread on Summer with 100 Creative Recipes" is sold on newsstands since the beginning of May. In there and in the June, 2017, issue of the magazine, which promotes the booklet, there are some creative time-saving ideas. Freezer jam, for instance, is featured. Instant pectin, enhancing the pectin already in fruit, is used and no special canning equipment is necessary. Instant pectin also allows the addition of less sugar. Interesting ingredients are just mixed together to create specialties such as Brandied Strawberry Freezer Jam.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.