When my husband, John, and I were first married, his Mom and Dad sent us a bit of money for his birthday.   As poor newlyweds, we were thrilled to use the extra cash to purchase a simple charcoal grill, a gift we both wanted and knew we would frequently use.  I remember driving to the Home Depot, holding hands as we went, and selecting the cheapest model we could find.  Shelling out a total of $50, we brought home a no-name brand that was black in color.

And we wore that sucker out.

In the deep south, it's too hot to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in the summertime.  So, John became quite adept at flipping steaks, burgers, and the like during the warm months of June, July, and August (okay, April, May, and September, too) in the effort to help me out.   We loved the taste of charcoal grilled food and we would invite friends over to share drinks and dinner with us.

But, sadly, over the years and with much use, our little grill rusted.  The bottom literally fell out and with a growing family, a new one wasn't a priority.  For Father's Day this year, though, I decided to upgrade and get a new gas grill.  (If you had seen the condition of our old one, just about anything that cooked food was an improvement, really.)

Unfortunately, we miss the flavor of charcoal but we just don't have the time to cultivate the skill of traditional bbq.  We've been very pleased, however, with the gas grill because it actually tastes grilled! We've been using it to sample lots of new recipes and to feed our family of six!

When my parents visited a few weeks ago, for instance, my Dad prepared these ribs for us and they were finger-licking good.  Literally.  I also tried out this Blue Cheese Burger recipe per the recommendation of my blogger friend, Kate.  As we ate, my Mom shared, "These are the best burgers I've ever had."

Perhaps, though, the easiest meal I've yet prepared was the one last night.  It was so effortless,  I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about it.

Oh, okay, twist my arm, why don't you.  Here goes:

I took a bunch of pork chops with the bone in them (this is where lots of the flavor is, in my opinion) and marinated them in a bottle of Italian salad dressing for a few hours.  (Confession:  I didn't even make the marinade.  It came straight out of a bottle.)  Then we grilled 'em up and served them on paper plates with a big green, leafy salad as a side.  Pure deliciousness.

My three year old, Mary Bernadette, said, as she cleaned the bone, "This meat is weally good, Mama."

"Why, thank you, my Darling," I replied with a twinkle in my eye.  "I slaved away all day just for you."

I figured, what she didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt her.  And though the food wasn’t time-consuming to prepare, it was made with love.  That counts for something, right?

Go ahead.  Try them.  You won't be disappointed.  Then,  you too can say you knocked yourself out to lovingly prepare a home-cooked meal for your family.

Copyright 2010 Colleen Duggan