"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Moms Who Can’t Grill Meat

by Julie Tilsner on May 25, 2007

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

ChicksbbqIt goes without saying that I am a feminist. But there are some jobs that are just better suited to the menfolk. BBQing is one of them.

Tony brought down his “smoker” for my last BBQ, and it’s been sitting on my patio since then. So when my mom friend Lynn suggested getting together for dinner and a playdate the other day (our sons are in the same first grade class together), I readily agreed. “Maybe we can BBQ some hamburgers,” she said. And then she gave me that look.

“Can we do that, do you think?”  I asked.

She paused. “I don’t know. Maybe. Heck, I don’t see why not. Have you ever BBQ’d before?”

“No. You?”


And we looked at each other.

“Well hell,” I said. “We’re smart, capable women. How hard can it be?”

So Lynn arrived Thursday afternoon with her two kids, all their Pokemon cards, a salad and a dozen CostCo frozen hamburgers. I had washed the grill, emptied the last of the easy-light charcoal into the bin of the smoker and thrown a few matches in, hoping they would catch. To my delight, they did. I was greatly pleased with myself. This would be a cinch.

As the fire burned down and the coals turned gray, we poured some wine, got the water on for the corn on the cob, and started making the salad. Then we sat and watched our kids playing, and drank some more wine.

An hour later, we realized maybe it was time to grill those burgers. Maybe it was more than an hour. We found the grill not as hot as it should be. In fact, it was downright lukewarm. Whoops.

We made several off-color jokes about how if only we had certain adult toys that can’t be mentioned by name in a family blog, we might not be making these stupid mistakes.

But being women (and mothers), we pressed forward, determined to do our best with what we had. We put the hamburgers on. Ten minutes later, they still hadn’t cooked. We called Tony for a consultation. “You let the coals go too long, he said. “Put the top on, but just for a minute. It’ll give the burgers a nice, smoky flavor.”

We put the top on. The hamburgers sizzled and dripped fat onto the coals. It seemed like it was taking an awfully long time. We finally started turning them and proceeded to drop one through the grill and onto the charcoal. We fished it out with tongs and washed it off. “I’ll take that one,” said Lynn.

We watched. We waited. We drank some more wine.

“I don’t think it’s supposed to take this long,” I opined.

“No,” she said.

The burgers finally cooked. The kids, who had filled up by this time on corn on the cob and cookies, each ate half of one.

We ate all of ours. It was the least we could do after this pathetic show of masculinity.

We positively glowed with estrogen, though, when it came to the salad. Lynn brought her kick-ass glazed pecan salad. Here’s the recipe:


1T Butter
2T Sugar
2 tsp. Water
1 C. Pecans (whole
or pieces) lightly toasted
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add the sugar and water, stirring to combine.  Cook until the sugar is dissolved
and becomes bubbly.  Stir in the pecans, coating well, cook until mixture browns
and caramelizes.  Remove from heat and spread onto a baking sheet to cool


3 T Balsamic Vinegar
6 T EV Olive Oil
1 large clove
garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dry
1/4 tsp pepper

Throw this over a salad of baby greens. Add sliced pears and cranberries for extra tangy goodness.

Lesson learned: Next time, use fresh meat for the burgers. Don’t drink so much wine. Pay more attention to the coals. And don’t forget the strap-on.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Bad Home Cook May 25, 2007 at 1:40 pm

That’s a good point, musician.


AT May 25, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Well, if I’m invited for the next barbecue, you won’t need the strap-on…


BaddAss MisterJ May 26, 2007 at 5:56 am

Oh man, hillarious!
“Have you ever BBQ’d before?”
“No. . . You?”
Wow a classic Lucy and Ethel moment I envisioned in my head while reading this.
I also envsioned Tony quoting famous Ricky Ricardo lines from the show:
“Luuuuucy. . . You hab lotsa ‘splaining to doo”
And doing the famous Ricky Ricardo Laugh while you do the classic Lucy “Wahhh Oh Ricky” cry.
Burgers should only take about 8 minutes TOPS if they are frozen. That’s if the coals are nice hot white and ashy.
Please refer to my site “Barbecue Bastards” to find a great burger recipe. There is a great Nancy Silverton Recipe I really like that you can find there.
I think the problem was that you had to bring those coals closer to the grill. And burgers are best grilled, not BBQ’ed. They are two different things.
Anyway, at least they weren’t steaks!


BaddAss MisterJ May 26, 2007 at 6:37 am

The George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine was made for the pre-fab’ed hamburgers. And the best thing is “that it knocks out the fat!”
Also a frying pan would’ve done a great job too!


holler May 26, 2007 at 9:04 am

Oh well, nevermind, at least you had some lovely salad, corn and wine. That in itself sounds perfect to me!


Jennifer Jeffrey May 27, 2007 at 2:51 pm

Hilarious! I’m going to use “positively glowed with estrogen” in a conversation this week and act like I came up with it.


Tim May 29, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I will let you know, you were fortunate you only had kids to grade your outdoor cooking. If you’re a man (which I am) and many other men are around, you’re graded on everything from the choice of wood or briquettes to the final product. I stay sober until the burgers are done.


Anne-Marie May 29, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Uh, two words: gas grill. And for some weird reason at my house, while my husband is the one “into barbeque” (he even took a class) I’m the one who uses the grill the most because he keeps overcooking things. I think he does it on purpose so he can drink more beer.


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