Getting All Up In Your Grill For Earth Day

My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. He worked 8-5, plus occasional weekends and overtime, in order to support his wife and their six kids. As kids, my brothers and I counted down to Dad’s summer vacation the way many kids countdown to Christmas. We would go on family camping trips and road trips. And for two weeks straight, most of our meals were cooked over the charcoal barbecue. Perhaps that is why barbecued anything, is among my favourite foods.

Today, in an effort to hurry summer’s arrival, I battled lawnmowers and gardening tools to pull the barbecue from the back of the shed. Our backyard here in Fernie is one of my favourite places in the world. This world is a great place, and with Earth Day happening this month, I thought I would offer a few tips for the barbecue season.

Meat. Research is showing that eating less meat and eating local meat, helps our planet. I grew up in a very meat and potatoes family where meat filled about half my plate. Meat fills a lower percentage of my plate than it used to, but I still love eating barbecued steak (or burgers, or smokies). Homemade salads and grilled veggies compliment the meat nicely. We are lucky that in Fernie we have access to some healthy, delicious, local meat. There are also some delicious vegetarian meals out there too, like my wife’s Black Bean Quinoa Burger (recipe below).

Dishes. Yes, real dishes are better (environmentally and financially) than disposable. One idea I have seen at events over the last few years is when the hosts provided food, they ask each guest to bring a plate and a cup. Disposable dishes do, however, win in the convenience department. If you choose disposable, choosing unbleached options is less harmful than bleached. Also, leaving a marker beside disposable cups for guests to write their names, encourages re-use (and general silliness).

Speaking of silly and beverages… one option for cutting down on packaging is to buy booze in bulk. Buying a box of wine for sharing is one example. If, like me, you are a beer drinker, consider buying a half-keg. Also, Fernie Brewing now offers a 1.89 Growler of beer. Of course, once they are open, they will not last forever…

Another thing I do is to prepare my own barbecue sauce. The recipe is simple (there are few ingredients and they are all found in most kitchens) and can be adjusted to meet your own taste (I often “accidentally” drop in a few extra cloves of garlic). Making your own barbecue sauce tastes great, and makes for one less container to throw in the recycling bin.

This summer, my wife and I are travelling home to the Maritimes where we will be showing off our new baby. I look forward to hanging out with our families, and to eating my Dad’s barbecued steak.

Happy Earth Day and happy grilling everyone!

Annie’s Happy Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
(makes about 5 patties)
1 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
1/4 cup minced bell pepper
1/4 cup fried onion
1 (or 10) cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
hot pepper sauce (to taste)
1 egg
1 tbls oil

*These patties don’t stay together well on a grill. Consider placing on tin foil if barbecuing.

Adam’s Simple B-BQ Sauce
Soya sauce (enough to darken the ketchup)
Garlic (or your favourite seasoning)
*Sometimes I add sugar or another sweetener (pineapple juice works well)