People have been cooking outside long before indoor cooking was possible. Somewhere around the invention of fire, you will find the first person cooking the remains of an unfortunately slow buffalo. Today, we think of indoor cooking as the standard. It is hard for us to imagine a society that did it any other way. Outdoor cooking is an occasional luxury we do for fun, not for survival. The only reason the concept is experiencing an upward trend is because of the pandemic of 2020. Suddenly, outdoor dining has become a partial necessity. With more outdoor dining, there has been a resurgence of outdoor cooking.
When occasional luxuries become frequent necessities, they become problematic. It is a little like a hammock. It is a nice thing to have in the backyard for some exotic relaxation. But you wouldn’t want to sleep in one every night. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. It is fun and interesting to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. But no one would trade their electric starter for the experience. There are pros and cons to outdoor cooking. Here are a few that should inform your experience:
When done right, outdoor kitchens add equity to your home. This is a big deal that should not be overlooked. Not only can you enjoy the luxury of outdoor cooking, but the next owners of the house will enjoy it as well. They will pay more if they can see themselves living that most enviable lifestyle.
The great thing about an outdoor kitchen is that it can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. You don’t have to build in all of the components of an indoor kitchen. But you can if you want to. Your budget and imagination are the only limits to what can be done.
Outdoor Cooking Takes Practice
You might be an excellent baker. You could be the master of the toaster oven. But if you want to be competent using a grill, you are going to need some practice. They made it look easy when you were on your Mexican market cooking tour. Everyone had a grill set up and put out enough mouthwatering food to feed a small army. What you have to realize is that they spent a lifetime learning those mad, delicious skills.
If you are using charcoal, how much do you need? How long should you keep the coals burning before putting your food on the grill? Should the entire grill be heated evenly? Or is it more advantageous to have different heating zones? None of this is automatic. You will not learn it just by reading books and watching YouTube videos. You are going to have to get out there and have a few cooking disasters before you get it right. Consider this fair warning: Some people never get it right.
Outdoor cooking requires an extra measure of safety. You have fire-suppression devices in your home to keep things from getting too far out of hand when you’re cooking. Outdoors, you have a lot of sparks flying around a lot of flammable objects.
It is not just about fire safety. It is also about food safety. Government food safety guidelines exist to help you serve safely whether you are in a restaurant setting, or a picnic setting. There is a reason so many people end up with symptoms of stomach flu immediately after a cookout. When it comes to outdoor cooking, safety has to be job one.
Good Times and Good Memories
Outdoor cooking is always associated with good times and good memories. Very seldom is an occasion featuring outdoor cooking remembered poorly. It is a good time had by all with plenty of pictures of people smiling and frolicking. While not necessary, many outdoor cooking sessions are tied to special occasions. They are celebrations of weddings, graduations, baby announcements, tailgating, church socials, family reunions, and the like. These are not the kinds of things you want to do in a stuffy kitchen and dining room indoors.
If you are thinking about adding an outdoor kitchen to your home, factor in the learning curve and the safety issues. Balance these against the value it will add to your home and the good times and great memories you are bound to cook up.