My Grilling Set-Up – and a Weber giveaway!

My cooking takes a delicious turn in summer, moving from the Simple Bites kitchen to the backyard patio and the charcoal grill.

The patio is shady in the afternoon, and leads onto our sprawling back lawn where the kids play. I love being able to simultaneously grill dinner and jump in on their games, whether we’re tossing a football or slinging a frisbee.

When cooking out of doors, fresh herbs are within reach for meals like Sage-Scented Chicken with Grilled Lemon. The overflowing garden inspires dishes such as Grilled Zucchini Salad with Feta-Mint Dressing and Spinach Salad with Grilled Strawberries, Asparagus and Walnuts.

Today, I’m sharing my charcoal grilling set up and the outdoor kitchen space I frequent from May through October. Be sure to read all the way to the end for a Weber giveaway you won’t want to miss.

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Do-Ahead Cider Ribs

I‘m furiously trying to wrap up about six deadlines to clear my schedule for our vacation next week, but I had to leave you with this recipe for ribs.

I served up a mammoth platter of sticky, cider-braised, barbecued-finished ribs to friends at our recent Canada Day party. And they were a massive hit. And it was my first time to ever – ever– prepare ribs. So I’m here to tell you, this is not only a great recipe for entertaining, but it’s also one for the novice rib cook.

Along with the rib recipe, I’ve included a peek at our menu for the party. It was super easy to pull together; keep reading and you’ll see why.

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Sage-Scented Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Lemon

Enjoying an abundance of fresh herbs is one of the perks of fall gardening. The green beans have finished and the tomatoes are tapering off, but most of the herbs seem to thrive until the snow falls.

When I dedicated one of my raised garden beds completely to herbs this spring, I didn’t realize how they would take off and how much the plants would actually produce. I really need to share a recent photo, because everything ended up about two-and-a-half feet tall.

The basil flourished and provided more than enough for my winter pesto stash and the lemon balm was always in ample supply for infusing lemonade. As for the sage, it grew into a knee-high bush and provided more than I knew what to do with in the kitchen. So I naturally started experimenting with recipes.

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Get Grilling. Get Gathering.

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s officially grilling season and time to kick off a few months of outdoor entertaining.

Loyal readers will already know that I love dishing up an al fresco feast, be it a taco bar, a canoe buffet or a pie social. There are no limitations when you set a table outdoors; you can always add a few more chairs (as I do for my harvest dinners) and create a generous centerpiece -or three- out of wildflowers.

We recently gathered around the barbecue on my sister’s back deck and watched her and hubby Mike grill spiced kofta, colourful vegetable kebabs and soft pita bread. Grilling is such a spectator sport, isn’t it? The glowing coals are memerizing, the scents are enticing and there’s always action on the grill; of course people congregate here.

Naturally, the food was excellent, and I so enjoyed this deviation from the standard burgers and buns fare (although we love those too!) that I vowed to recreate the whole menu again for a future gathering of my own. And then I thought that if I appreciated the inspiration,  you might too.

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Grilled Chicken & Sweet Pepper Fajitas

I‘m late to the grilling party this year, mostly because our ten-year-old gas barbecue finally called it quits earlier in the summer. I flipped a few burgers over a campfire, and even grilled trout over the open flame, but it wasn’t until we were well into August before we invested in a charcoal grill.

Just in time, too, because I can’t go through this time of the year with out grilled fruit salad, cedar planked salmon, or smokey shrimp tacos. This grilled summer vegetable salad is another favourite…and the list could go on and on.

Our Weber came at the recommendation of family grilling expert, Jan, and my photographer/grill master friend, Tim. I have been wanting to make the switch to charcoal for some time, although I wasn’t quite prepared for the learning curve. It’s…challenging. And how I love a good challenge.

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