This was a post that my Dad and I created a year ago. Actually – I created it on behalf of my Dad as he was “out of stories” at this point in his life. I remember, though, how wonderful it was that I could pull stories out of a hat – based on what I knew so well about my Dad and how he felt about life – in this matter – Billy Burgers and Polly Dogs. I think this was one of the last posts that I read to Dad that he actually “edited”. How lucky I was to be able to share these days with him – and time with both Mom and Dad to know these stories intimately. Anyhow – I re-blogged this one in memory of Mom and Dad – Hope you enjoy! – Stacey (the ghost writer)
Most people would agree that there are some pretty “beefy” BBQs on the market these days. What would life be like without these super models? Well, my friends, I have a confession to make. I have never been a fan of these new tools of the trade. I am a pioneer and to this history I have remained true. Especially when it comes to barbequing.
Paula, my beautiful wife, loved to shop. She also loved to cook. But I, however, was the master of the outdoor grill. Paula and I entertained a lot when we lived on the farm. Every week-end there would be at least 4 or 5 people who would come to experience the “country life”. This would include a swim in the pool, some of Paula’s famous veggies with sour cream and onion dip, some “body builder” (home-made wine) and for dinner…Billy Burgers and Polly Dogs.
The secret to a great burger was the way it was cooked, although I must admit that Paula did mix the burgers from scratch with her secret recipe! Early in the afternoon, I would gather some twigs from the bush – I’d recruit the company to help to add to their “country experience” – and some larger kindling. I would pile these strategically on my little, round, BBQ and set a match to the whole works. While everyone else was cooking with charcoal and gas – I cooked with wood.
My favorite type of wood to use was maple. Boy, that would give the burgers a good flavour. The trick was to get the fire going nicely so that you could get some good coals. After about an hour or so, I’d set the grill down – cover the lid and let the heat build. The coal had to glow. No flames were allowed.
I never got over how surprised our guests from the city were that you could use wood to cook food. Imagine! I guess they were just too spoiled from having indoor cooking surfaces. Really. Wood stoves were a part of my life.
In any case, in a ceremonious way, the burgers were presented by Paula to the BBQ and on they would go. I’d get them seared on both sides and then – lower the lid to get them smoked over the maple. Sometimes the wood would be wet and we could hear the sap sizzle as it evaporated out of the wood in the heat.
The Polly dogs were our guests other “smoked meat” option. Truthfully, they were just hot dogs, but boy did they taste good when they were cooked over wood!
A little cheese and a few condiments made this meal complete. Paula’s caesar salad was always a hit – her dressing she made from scratch. And, yes, it was made in a different blender than the one I used to make “Beetle Juice” from.
We all had a great time on the farm. It was so different too eating in the great outdoors. The bug zapper took care of the dusk mosquito attacks – or at least until they got so thick that we all had to rush inside for a reprive.
While everyone else hid indoors, I’d start another fire in the bonfire pit. It was a good way to get rid of all the scrub brush that I had hauled out of the back 80 acres during the day. We’d tell our guests that the mosquitoes knew there was fresh city blood coming that week-end and that’s why there were so many of them around. City blood was always sweeter. (grin)
One of the best memories I have of those bonfires was the singing and dancing that we did with the help of a couple glasses of body builder. My wine was a little stronger than the average wine and sometimes it was a little challenging to restrain our enthusiastic guests. With the help of my collection of hill-billy band instruments including a mouth organ, string – bucket, and washboard, everyone had a good time. Remember, “Oh, Susanna’s the funny old man..?”
The next morning – all that was left of the celebrations were a few groggy heads, tipped chairs, and good laughs.
The billy burgers and polly dogs were indeed a hit – but without our good friends to share these tastes and times – no one would have been quite so “fired up”.
Cheers to the memories!