Bumper charity weekend ahead

The guys and I have a hectic weekend ahead of us as we take on our most ambitious charity project in the 12 or so years we’ve been doing this.

We’ve invited some of the poorest families from an economically depressed residential area South West of Johannesburg to join us for a lunch the guys will be cooking, and we’ll also be distributing food hampers to each family. We’ve secured the assistance of a local school which has kindly allowed us use of the premises, and a few classrooms and the ablution facilities.

The classrooms are for the use of a general practitioner, a dentist and an optometrist who have magnanimously donated their time and services to conduct basic medical screening and checks on all the invited folks who are in such need. The SA Blood Services (SANBS) will also be at hand to perhaps carry out some tests, present a talk, and hopefully collect some much-needed blood from willing donors.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up some last-minute shopping and spend the day putting together the food hampers which will consist of basic dry provisions, vegetables and fruits. The guys will then spend the rest of the afternoon preparing the meat, vegetables etcetera for the traditional Indian chicken briyani, we will be cooking in two huge pots over an open fire at the school.

The cooking will start very early Sunday morning. Tables and chairs will be set up for the few hundred people who are expected, and some classrooms will be prepared for the health professionals to do their thing.

I’m expecting to be exhausted by Sunday afternoon, but gratified at pulling off this mammoth [for a handful of guys] task.

And in this corner, George’s Grill & Griddle…

During the week I spotted a George Foreman Grill & Griddle (hereafter referred to as GGG) on display in a store that I frequent, and being a bachelor, I thought it looked like the perfect appliance for those quick dinners after a hard day at the office.

However, the store was temporarily out of stock, except for the one on display. The sales lady offered to put in back in the box for me to purchase, but I declined and opted to return on another occasion to check if stock was available. On Saturday, I returned to find two GGG’s in stock in somewhat battered-looking boxes, although the contents appeared untouched in their original wrappings.

I was rather eager to give this appliance a try, so I made the purchase and picked up a fairly big rump steak at a supermarket, on my way home.

After the obligatory reading of the instruction manual and recommended cleaning with a¬† damp cloth, I got GGG’s grill section set up and ready for cooking.

Fifteen minutes later (including standing time), I tucked into a steak that was disappointingly  tasteless. I had followed all the instructions explicitly. What the hell happened?

My initial thought was that the steak was overdone. But it certainly looked medium-to-well as I normally like it. Then it dawned on me that maybe a steak needs to be cooked in its own fat. This appliance has a fat-free system that allows the fats and oils to drain away. I may be wrong, but the lack of taste pointed to a lack of fat. This afternoon, I did some digging on the Interwebs and found the following hilarious Customer Review by Sam Gregory on Amazon which sort off confirms my suspicion:

A ring at the door abruptly disturbs my sleep. My dream? I don’t remember the exact details but it was something involving two fillet steaks, a tub of goose fat and a scantily clad Britney Spears singing into a newspaper cone filled with chips.
After performing my ‘one-two-three’ side-roll out of bed and onto the floor I dragged myself to the staircase instead of getting straight to my feet, then used my elbows to slide up and into the stair lift.
I had the man from the stair lift company come round and fit an extension to the rail last month meaning that I can get anywhere downstairs without having to flop out of the chair, because walking is just SO outdated.
The doorbell rang a second time and I scrabbled to open it, refusing to drop the half eaten Mars bar in my left hand from last night which was by now, coated in a mixture of carpet fluff and hair. I just hate waste.
A cheery young fellow passed a huge box to me which I rested on my stomach-shelf and asked me to sign his notebook which I did, smudging melted chocolate and caramel across the sheet by accident, much to his dismay.

Hugging my new present and closing the door I put my chair into gear and made my way to the living room to unpack it. Seeing Georges over-enthusiastic, smiling little face filled me with excitement as I removed the outer packaging. I noticed that this thing was indeed a healthy size, possibly big enough to cook half of a breakfast on at any one time.
After sitting it down I plugged it in next to my computer to let it warm up whilst I logged into World of Warcraft, but to my amazement, by the time I had reached the character selection screen I could feel the heat beaming up at me from the fully machine washable griddle plates. Wow, what a machine!

I whipped my chair into warp-speed and flew to the kitchen to grab a couple of sirloins, a handful of pork chops and a dozen sausages just to give my Foreman a little mid-morning test.

That was where I hit my only real problem with this little beauty.
I didn’t take much notice when I first slapped my meat-feast across the grill but the whole machine is actually on a slant. The front kind of dips downward, meaning that all the fat and grease (the good stuff) seeps out of your food and runs onto the floor.
I have found a few solutions to this design flaw and they are as follows:

1. Cut a long French baguette in half and place it beneath the front of the grill allowing it to soak up the wasted fat. This tastes great with a couple of sausages crammed inside.

2. Take two fairly thick books (I use my Linux For Dummies 8th Edition and a couple of computer game walk-through guides, I don’t use them anymore, I am too elite) and stack them underneath the front feet of the George Foreman. This keeps the fat on the grill and allows your meat selection to cook in its own juices wonderfully.

3. Last but by no means least… I noticed whilst unpacking the box there was an extra bit of packaging which at first I thought was a little excessive but now have come to think of as a real godsend. It is almost like a long plastic dish that fits perfectly to the size of the grill!
I place this underneath to catch the fat, then before it cools down to a solid state, quickly pour it into a blender with some ice cream, a tablespoon or two of sugar and a knob of butter then leave mixing whilst I remove my meat from the grill. Pour the frothy delight into a chilled glass and enjoy through a straw.
This is a real treat and highly recommended!

So what more can I say?
A superb invention I would highly recommend to anyone who like me, strives to be nothing but the best.

Thank you George you lovely little man you.

Warms up quicker than World of Warcraft
Great picture of George Foreman on the outer packaging I feel, which I have now had framed and put beside my bed

Could be bigger really. Say 3 or 4 times bigger?
The slanted grill is a minor issue which can be rectified by following my above instruction

I’m not about to give up though. Perhaps I was doing something wrong after all. Either that, or I have lost my sense of taste. So before I retire my GGG for life, I’m going to try a few other items like vegetables, fish, sausages and bacon, on the grill first. I also still need to try out the griddle section.

Well George, seems like you’re going to get another shot at the title…

Men who don’t cook

Many years ago, I cooked nearly every day. Living alone, it was a necessity. Over the last few years I stopped cooking altogether, except for the occasions when out with the guys camping, fishing or spur-of-the-moment holiday trips, when I helped out, playing second fiddle to better cooks.

Being able to buy take-away dinners and dine out has gotten so easy, one tends to become inured to its lazy charm.

Walking through the kitchen today, I stopped to gaze dissolutely at some of the utensils and gizmos I’d acquired over the years, when I actually bothered to cook for myself. Gathering some serious dust, they were.

I pulled down a Kenwood electric wok I ‘d bought many years ago and used only a few times. I don’t know why I picked this appliance, as I didn’t particularly have any ingredients to put it to proper use. But for some strange reason, I felt I had to do something with it, anything; just to experience what it felt like to cook again. I soon had that sucker washed and ready….. but for what?

Scratching around I found free range eggs, onions, a couple of chillies that had grown ripe, a piece of chorizo sausage. And in no time I was gazing at an omelette in the wok, which looked like a kings lunch. I soon wolfed that sucker down, and felt an unbelievable sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Yes, it was only an omelette this time, but next time I’m going to climb the culinary heights once again. Men who don’t cook may not be missing much, but I’m convinced they’ll never be complete men.