What's cooking?

By Patrick Fisher

With spring here, flowers aren't the only things that will be popping up in people's yards. Expect to see grills brought out of their winter storage, cleaned off and fired up.

Like many, I enjoy grilling something every once in awhile. I prefer using charcoal rather than a gas grill. To me everything tastes better, although I don't want whatever I'm cooking so well done that it's black. I enjoy some of the good old favorites - hot dogs, brats, polish sausages and hamburgers. One item I've yet to try grilling is a steak. Occasionally when my family would go camping, we would do steaks over the grill. Sometimes it was over charcoal; a few times it was a wood fire. Either way the meat came off tasting great.

Sometimes I like trying something different when I grill, such as pork chops or turkey legs. They may need a little more care than the usual items, but when done right, they are juicy, tender and delicious. I've also tried Cajun brats or those with wild rice added or even Italian sausages, usually the hot and spicy kind.

When I say spicy, I do mean spicy. I like food that has a little extra kick to it. Chalk it up to my not trying a variety of foods growing up. I preferred mostly mild things such as hot dogs, corn dogs and meat and potato meals. Now, I'm making up for lost time by trying restaurants whose entrees run the gamut including Greek, Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian BBQ. At each of these choices, I like to see what their idea of spicy is. I like various spiced foods - from those that cause my eyes to water with the first bite to the ones that require a build-up before they explode on the taste buds.

I can't stand mild sauces or salsa; they have about as much flavor as ketchup - I'm even a little leery of something that's labeled medium. Too often, the major restaurants label something as medium or spicy, but it's been watered down for the general public.

A few times when I've asked that my meal be spicy, it still comes out medium, although that has come back to haunt me.

Once at an Eagan restaurant my friends and I enjoy going to, I asked that a meal labeled as spicy be just that. When it arrived and after taking a few bites, I broke out into a sweat. It was so hot, spice wise, that I couldn't finish it, but I took it home and enjoyed the rest of it later. When we got the bill, we saw the waitress had written next to my order HOT... and it was underlined.

While this instance was a little extreme, it did fit a requirement my friends have often heard me say, If it doesn't make you sweat

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