I'm putting out the Food section today, far from a back porch and the grill. So we dusted off the Weber kettle last night and made a memorable, smoky feast. I took everything hanging around the veg crisper and tossed it in a bowl -- sweet onions, skinny peppers, a bright yellow bell pepper, one lone tomato. When I was all done, I found a bulb of fresh fennel in the other crisper drawer and added that too. I steamed a few haricots verts and asparagus (both are a nuisance to grill and we needed something bright green and crisp).
The shrimp are from the Gulf coast. Of the many ways you can cook them, grilled in their shells is the best. We peel as we eat, which makes quite a delicious mess.
A note on the Weber: Every year my husband and I have the same discussion as we sit near the grill in our tiny shade garden. Why is this grill so poorly designed? Why are the parts outside the kettle itself so flimsy? This drove my father, an engineer, nuts. He once wrote to the Weber company offering his design ideas. He never heard back. Silly them.
I'm thinking about my Dad today because he was a career U. S. Army officer and at one of his early posts -- at Watertown Arsenal, when it was a working ordinance facility -- he learned to grill. He had met a fellow officer at a picnic on base. Families would gather in an outdoor area where there were tables and big brick grills anyone could use. This other officer, a West Point graduate whom my father admired, came from Texas. He made steaks with barbecue sauce. My father, raised in Brockton by a widowed mother who spoke no English, had never had anything like it and spent the rest of his life perfecting his own sauce.
At one point, we lived on an arsenal outside Philadelphia in a house that was so large, you could stand in the fireplace. (The building was cut up into apartments soon after we lived there.) When my parents entertained, my father cooked right in the fireplace, steaks with barbecue sauce, all seasons.
Memo to customer service at Weber: Had you listened to my father, you might be sending a great product into the marketplace today. Something everyone I know would not complain about. Dig out that letter.
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.