The same day I lost my senses and bought 15 plants with corresponding pots for a container garden, we also bought a grill. Nothing fancy. Just your standard Weber kettle, although we did consider a Japanese ceramic multi-purpose model. It’s on our list of “things for when we have our own yard.” As we walked to the checkout line, Professor X asked “You know how to do this, right? I don’t have the first idea how. We’re actually going to us it, yes?” I assured him of my grill prowess. As things go, the grill sat unused for a few months.

Corvallis is currently in the throes of a heat wave. Not just hot for Oregon, but empirically hot. I wake every morning to a little red triangle with an exclamation point in the top left corner of my phone. “Excessive heat warning,” it reads. “Fire alert,” it reminds me. Of course I’ve been more careful with my cigarette butts. However, I’ve not yet transitioned entirely to the PNW hyper-vigilant state of mind. Our A/C units have been roaring for three days straight, and I built the next week’s menu around grilling. I’m a grown ass adult who knows how to build a responsible fire.

When we tottered out to the back patio with a bowl of veggies and a plate of chapli kebab around 7:30 last night, I experienced a brief moment of panic. Professor X’s line of inquiry from our trip to Fred Meyer was rattling through my head. “Why would you build a fire when it’s 100 degrees outside?” He had a point. Why would anyone of sane mind make a hot day even hotter? How many times have I swilled more wine than necessary in reaction to the rivulets of sweat running into my collar while tending the cooking flame? How many times have I ended up too deep in my cups and hungry enough to eat charred meat? It’s been at least four years since I last confronted a charcoal grill.

Despite the self-doubt, I pressed on and Professor X observed from a safe distance. Incrementally, he approached the flame. First holding a plate. Then keeping an eye on ones that were about to burn. After I lost a patty to the fire, he took over the spatula; maneuvering around the grill as the wind shifted, scooping perpendicular to the grate at first, then parallel. As we came up the back steps, he articulated a plan to improve heat distribution and a rough sketch for tandoori style chicken to be cooked the next night.

Chapli Kebab for Grilling Converts

Get thee:

1 lb of ground beef

one yellow onion, half diced fine, other half sliced vertically

green chili, diced fine

roma tomato, diced fine

one egg

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. coriander

one lime, cut into quarters


1) Combine everything except the vertically sliced onions and lime quarters in a bowl. Knead with your hands until diced vegetables are evenly distributed.

2) Take up golf ball sized clumps and shape into patties. You should have about…oh hell. I don’t know how many you should have. 20? Maybe 15?

3) Grill for ~3 minutes on each side over charcoal on a sweltering hot evening. Realize that you probably should have bought a small table since there is nowhere to put the other food, grilling accessories, and drinks. Pick ants out of your wine until done. Be careful not to toss the plate into the trash while disposing of burned paratha.

4) Serve with lime wedges, vertically sliced onion, and the good batch of paratha in your notably cooler apartment since you didn’t turn on the stove. Grilled zucchini and peppers optional.