Memorial Day is almost here. Gentlemen, start your grills.
Broken Arrow Park smelled slightly smoky Friday afternoon. The grillers were out, cooking over coals.
It's almost Memorial Day -- time for picnics in the park and backyard barbecues. Across Lawrence, the scent of sizzling meat is filling the evening air, sending us scrambling for tongs and marinade.
"Just about any occasion is good to barbecue," said Mike Fisher of Lawrence, getting ready to grill at home.
The Abels from Topeka were grilling hot dogs for their grandchildren, Dalton Abel, 6, and Garrett Abel, 4, at the park. Their set up was just a simple portable, disposable grill, but they like the taste of grilled food. That's the best part of grilling, Fred Abel said, the taste.
"There's no comparison," he said.
And he doesn't wait until summer to grill, either.
"We have a natural gas grill at home," said his wife, Georgia Abel.
He uses it year-round, "Unless it's raining or below freezing -- so I can grill most of the year," he said.
The trick to grilling meat well is taking your time, he said. It also helps to get the coals right.
He doesn't restrict himself hot dogs and hamburgers, either.
"He's got two or three cookout books and we've been trying a lot of different things," his wife said. "" He does some stuffed chicken breasts that are really good."
The Millers, just a picnic table away, said almost anything can go on the grill -- from steaks to garden vegetables.
Lynnette and Jeff Miller sat with their friends Ron and Cindy Zelt, finishing their picnic.
"We pretty well grill anything," Lynnette Miller said.
During the summer, she welcomes the opportunity to grill outside and stay out of the kitchen. "It's not heating up the kitchen," she said.
At work, Fisher is known for his barbecuing -- he and his unusual Big Green Egg ceramic grill and smoker.
"I probably grill four times a week," he said. "Since I got my Big Green Egg, I like it better. " You can cook some pretty good ribs in it."
Fisher said he's grilled pork chops, briskets and roasts. His barbecue uses lump coal, and gets hotter than the average grill. He'll even head outside in the winter to grill, if the weather's OK.
"The taste is so much better," he said. "Gas cooking or electric cooking is so bland -- you have to add so much spice to it."
Not so with grilling and barbecuing. With just varying the wood chips he uses, the flavor can change.
"The flavor -- you can't even describe it. It just soaks into the meat," he said.
The Millers are also supporters of cooking with wood chips.
"Sometimes we use mesquite chips," Jeff Miller said.
Grilling is fun and relaxing, too.
"It's a get-together, outdoor kind of thing," Fisher said. "When I'm grilling, I just stay out on the porch, maybe drink a beer and relax."
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.