Backyard Barbecues  
By Dian Thomas

For many, the warm weather means one thing — time for fun adventure outdoors. The hot summers are gone and it is time to get out and enjoy all the smells of the woods, watch the beautiful leaves as they turn color, and get ready for winter and fun with friends and family.

If you can't go away, a great adventure can be experienced right in your backyard. My family and I head for an adventure in the mountains, where we enjoy gatherings around a campfire to sing songs and cook food that tastes better than anything we can cook at home. We build memories around those adventures that last for ever.

This family tradition started more than 20 years ago. I still remember having to put on a little football helmet to protect my nephew's head, because he spent most of his time upside down in a bush. I tell you, that kid would fall over whenever you looked at him.

I would like to share with you some of the delicious meals we have while creating memorable experiences around the campfire. For all of you who only want to go to the backyard, I have a great way to build a fire.

Wagon Barbeque

A child's old metal wagon can make a great barbeque. You can even build a small fire and all sit around it as if you were in the woods. Take that wagon and fill it with dirt, sand, or gravel. Once it is filled, put heavy-duty foil over it to protect the wagon. Place a pile of charcoal on the foil. About 30 to 45 minutes before you are ready to put the food on the barbeque, light the charcoal briquettes. When they are hot, put your Meatloaf in an Onion on the coals, and you are on your way to a delicious meal.

Meatloaf in an Onion

This is one of my signature recipes and is wonderful for a large group. Each person makes his or her own.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
One-fourth cup cracker crumbs
One-fourth cup tomato sauce
One-half teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon pepper
One-half teaspoon dry mustard
4 large onions, peeled and halved as per instructions below
18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil

In a 1-gallon plastic self-sealing bag, combine ground beef, egg, cracker crumbs, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and dry mustard and mix by squeezing. Set aside.

Cut off the root at the bottom end of the onion so that removal of the center is easy. (The removed center of the onion can be diced and combined with ingredients or used later.) Cut onions in half horizontally and remove center part of onion, leaving a shell that is three-fourths inch thick . Divide meat mixture into 4 portions and roll into balls. Place in the center of the 4 onion halves. Put onions back together. Wrap each onion in foil.

If you are making this on the barbecue, cook over a bed of hot coals for 15 to 20 minutes per side. If you are making this in your kitchen, cook at 350º Fahrenheit in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the ground beef and onion are cooked.

Serve as a lunch or dinner. Serves 4.

Banana Boat

18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil
1 banana, unpeeled
Miniature marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips or broken candy bars

Cut a slit lengthwise about two-thirds of the way through the banana, from the stem to the base. Fill the slit with miniature marshmallows and milk chocolate chips or broken pieces of chocolate bars. (I like to use milk chocolate chips because they melt in your mouth, in your hand — they melt everywhere.)

To heat the banana boat, wrap in foil and cook on hot coals for five minutes, or until the chocolate and marshmallows have melted. Be careful! If you leave the boats in the coals too long, the bananas will liquefy! Serve as a snack, a dessert or a treat around the campfire.

Variation: You can also create a “fruit banana boat” by using maraschino cherries, shredded coconut, nuts and pineapple.

Apple Pie on a Stick

This wonderful fix-it-yourself dessert is one of my favorites!

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 dowels or roasting sticks
4 cooking apples

In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Push the stick or dowel through the top of the apple to the bottom until the apple is secure. Roast the apple 2 to 3 inches above the bed of hot coals and turn frequently. (As the apple cooks, the skin starts to brown and the juice dribbles out.) When the skin is loose, remove the apple from the coals but leave it on the stick. Peel the skin off the apple, being careful not to burn yourself because the apple is very hot.

Roll the apple in the sugar mixture; then return it to roast over the coals (the sugar and cinnamon will form a glaze on the apple). Be careful not to get it so close to the fire that it burns. Remove the apple from the coals and let it cool. Slice thin pieces and eat your “apple pie on a stick.” Again roll in sugar mixture, return to hot coals, slice and eat, and repeat until apple is gone.

Serves 4.

Note: The best cooking apples are Jonathan, Rome or Granny Smith, because the skin peels off easily when heated.


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