It’s no big news flash that farmers have been known to eat supper at the same hour as laborers getting up to start the work day in Europe. If you live at our house, you know that if there’s as much as a shred of daylight showing, it’s far too early to stop working.
My husband would have gotten along very well with John Wayne in the movie, “The Cowboys,” with his mantra, “We’re burnin’ daylight.”
But working until the cows come home affects not only the farm hands, but the woman of the house as well.
She must decide what she could prepare that would not shrivel up, grow hair or take on a life of its own before 10:30 or 11 p.m., when her family enters the house hungry, exhausted, smelling like animals and their end products, and needing showers.
Our grill gets the most use during the summer same as everyone elses. The difference with us is the time of day in which it’s used.
When in town, you can smell people firing up the grill during normal suppertime hours. Our group would still have a long list of things to accomplish yet at that time of day, and stopping for supper would only prolong the time it took.
“That means that if they want something fresh and hot, it comes off the grill when they are ready for supper.
Well, they want something fresh and hot, but what they’ve often gotten is hot and leathery.
Our family wouldn’t even know what a hamburger looked like if it didn’t have ashes on it. It’s a well-known fact around here that during a drought year, it’s not a good idea to have trash to burn or have me at the grill. Both of those things often end in the same results. It’s far too dry to take a chance on flames shooting up from the grill, and eating supper is not worth setting the yard or the house on fire.
The worst part of all of that is that most of the time I’m grilling after dark. Occasionally, people will drive by the farm at that time of night, and are witnesses to the smoke and flames, the garden hose at work and a flame-dousing spatula. It’s pretty hard for them to deny my lack of culinary prowess – or even sleep that night – when they witness something like that.
And yet, I maintain that if I can’t see the food I’m grilling, I can’t guarantee the results. It’s probably a good thing my family doesn’t hold me to high standards.
I remember one time as I was growing up, Mom burned a grill full of steaks for our family of nine. She quickly gathered up the pieces of what was going to be supper, and told us to throw them out somewhere in the grove where Dad wouldn’t see them, and she cooked something else.
I’m certain Dad must have thought he was working too hard by the time supper actually reached his plate, because he was probably sure he smelled steaks on the barbie.
And it all happened in broad daylight. Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Now, after nearly 27 years of marriage, three grown children and an unusual collection of (once-beef) hockey pucks, I’m finally getting the hang of it.
And not a moment too soon – as my husband and children had consumed their daily requirements of shoe leather, and put me to shame over time as they would carry in platters of beautifully grilled entrees when they were on grill duty.
Somehow, the rest of the meal being beautifully prepared did not impress them as much as meat that was not blackened.
I think I was just ahead of my time. Somewhere in some restaurant, blackened steaks and hamburgers are probably at the top of the menu, raking in big money.
My grilling skills could be worth a lot to the right people.
I guess that for a lot of years, we weren’t just burnin’ daylight.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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