Grilling basics: How much fuel to add for the fire

WHAT'S COOKING?

August 10, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Q: This summer I am trying to learn some grilling skills. How many charcoal briquettes should I start with to grill enough chicken or hamburgers for four people?

A: The general guideline for laying fuel for a fire, whether using briquettes or hardwood, is to lay the fuel in an area large enough for the surface of the food you are cooking. Make sure that a good portion of the fire around the outer edges (about one-third of the total fuel) has less fuel than in the center. The center should be about 4 inches thick with fuel for this will give maximum heat. You can then move the food to the outside, cooler ring for more controlled grilling without burning.

Q: I have been using canola oil for years and thought it came from a vegetable. Recently I was told it comes from something called rapeseed. Is this true?

A: Yes it is true. The rapeseed is the seed from the rape plant, which is a member of the cabbage family. The seed has been pressed for its oil for centuries in Europe and the Middle East. Its unpleasant name was changed to canola oil in more recent years. The oil is produced mainly in Canada, but has been in great demand in the United States lately as news has spread about its beneficial monounsaturated qualities. The oil is highly recommended for its cholesterol-lowering properties.

Q: Could you please tell me how to store dehydrated apples so they will stay crisp? When my apples are first removed from my dehydrator, they are crisp, but they soon soften.

A: According to "Keeping Food Fresh," by Janet Bailey, dehydrated or dried fruits should be stored in air-tight plastic bags or lidded jars and kept in the refrigerator. If you still feel your apples are too soft, you may want to remove the excess moisture and recrisp them by placing your apples on a rack and drying in a very low oven (200 degrees) for 20 to 30 minutes.

TIP: Sweet bell peppers in colors of red, yellow, green, orange and purple are champions among vegetables. They take the prize in nutrition as well as being extremely low in calories. Loaded with more vitamin C than an orange, plus potassium and fiber, a medium bell has only 40 calories.

We'd like to hear from you. Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or leave your questions by phone by calling Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County). Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6180 after you hear the greeting. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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