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The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Get Creative with Grilled Food
- Pineapple rings
- Zucchini slices
- Eggplant slices
- Cabbage steaks
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 2022 ASANA Softball World Series will bring together nearly 70 of the most competitive adult softball teams in the country to Washington, D.C. August 16 – 20. The tournament, which welcomes LGBTQ cisgender women, transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary people and their allies, will bring together top teams from nearly 30 cities across the country. The event is being welcomed to the D.C. area by the Chesapeake & Potomac Softball League (CAPS), the DC area’s LGBTQ softball league, members of which are serving as the hosting committee for the tournament.
“We are very excited to be heading to the D.C. area this year for the 2022 ASANA Softball World Series,” said ASANA Commissioner Angela Smith. “The Host Committee has been fantastic to work with to make sure this event is one of our best ever. I know all of our teams are looking forward to experiencing all there is to do and see in the area and playing some incredible softball along the way.”
“Having the bid to host the ASANA World Series before the pandemic, the DC community was eagerly anticipating the event,” said Tony Mace, Co-Chair of the DC Host Committee. “Little did we know that the world would shut down for over a year, but our Host City committee never stopped working to bring the best player experience for ASANA athletes and families. After three years in the making, the Host City committee and I are looking forward to welcoming the first players who arrive.”
For the fourth consecutive year, a selection of the tournament games, including all championship games, will be live-streamed in partnership with the Cloud Sports Network (CSN) through the ASANA Facebook page and YouTube channel. But, for the first time ever, those games will also be available to stream for free on OutVoices.us through an exclusive partnership agreement.
“Typically the ASANA Softball World Series will get anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 unique viewers each year just from the ASANA social media channels,” said Roman Jimenez. “That’s an already large and highly targeted audience who want to watch LGBTQ cis women, trans men, trans women, and non-binary softball players compete at the highest level. To be able to increase that audience by a factor of 3 or 4 as a result of our partnership with OutVoices.us is an incredible opportunity for a much larger portion of our community to be exposed to competitive sports by and for our community and our allies.”
For those who haven’t seen their coverage before, Jimenez cautions against having low expectations. “We’re not just a lone cell camera jury-rigged to a backstop,” he said. “We have multiple cameras, on-field microphones, on-screen graphics, instant replay, and professional broadcasters describing the action as it’s unfolding. We are as close to the Queer version of ESPN as you can get.”
The Cloud Sports broadcast team includes as its analyst ASANA Hall of Famer Rosalyn Bugg, who in addition to having competed as both a coach and player at the ASANA Softball World Series, is also the Commissioner of the Women’s + division of the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association (GLASA) and runs that division’s tournament at the Sin City Classic, the largest annual LGBTQ sporting event in the world. In 2022, Bugg was also inducted into the GLASA Hall of Fame. Describing the action play-by-play will be Jimenez, a veteran broadcaster and softball player, and coach who has helmed various championship teams for over 25 years. In 2019 Jimenez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his hometown LGBTQ softball league in San Diego, America’s Finest City Softball League (AFCSL). In addition, both Bugg and Jimenez are championship-certified USA Softball umpires.
“Both Roman and I know the game,” said Bugg, “and we work great together as a team.”
As part of the 2021 ASANA Softball World Series broadcast, Bugg introduced player shout-outs to family members and friends who were watching the broadcast. This created an incredibly engaging atmosphere on the ASANA social platforms.
“I love highlighting not only the action on the field but also the players responsible for it,” Bugg said. “This tournament is all about the players and telling their stories is a privilege we take very seriously.”
The ASANA Softball World Series will consist of four divisions. The B Division is the highest level of skill and often includes players with a history of playing the fast-pitch version of the sport in high school or college level. The C Division includes players who, while highly skilled, aren’t quite at the same level as the B Division-caliber of players, or whose skills may have slowed with age. The D and E Divisions are for both newer players and for those who may have aged out of the higher divisions. Since many players have been playing in ASANA-affiliated associations for 20+ years, many will have experienced every division of play before settling into where their skills are currently best suited.
In total, nearly 3,000 athletes will be headed to D.C. for this year’s event and as you might guess, in addition to hundreds of volunteers, it takes a lot of money to make an event like the 2022 ASANA Softball World Series even possible. For that, both ASANA and the CAPS Host Committee have been engaging with sponsors to help offset costs.
“We want to thank our sponsors on both the national and local levels. Without them we couldn’t provide the experience we do for our players, their families, and for our fans,” said Smith. “We look forward to being able to share these experiences with them and with our live-streaming audience on our social channels and right here on OutVoices.us.”
Coverage begins Thursday, August 25th with early tournament play, continuing during “Elimination Friday” on August 26th all the way through to “Championship Saturday” on August 27th, when all four divisional championships will be broadcast. Stay tuned to this page for updates on game time and team announcements and to watch the games live.
ASANA — Amateur Sports Alliance of North America — was created in 2007 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of amateur athletics for all persons regardless of gender, age, race, creed, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation with a special emphasis on the participation of women, trans men, trans women, non-binary and agendered people.
The organization currently has 25 member cities across the United States and hosts the annual ASANA Softball World Series which brings together over 70 teams for a 4-day championship tournament. The World Series has four divisions to provide varying competitive levels of play, with "B" being the most skilled and the "E" supporting the most recreational.
To connect with stories involving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer characters, you don't have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community yourself. These new lesbian romance novels are a must-read for everyone, whether you're hoping to improve your ally skills or are just seeking a really awesome book. Check out our book recommendations now since they are DEFINITELY worth your time.
The One Woman By Laura MayThe One WomanPhoto courtesy of Amazon
The One Woman, a New sapphic romance novel by Laura May. Julie's life and her relationship with her partner Mark are routine in every way. That is until she meets Ann. Web developer Ann is a kind and beautiful person. It is impossible to deny Julie's feelings for Ann. The spark is genuine as their present and past converge in Barcelona. Julie has to choose between her love for Ann and her devotion to Mark when tragedy strikes. Will true love last the distance? You’ll find out in The One Woman.
Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Count Your Lucky Stars
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Margot receives the spotlight in Bellefleur's third book Written in the Stars even though she has no intention of entering a committed relationship herself. Margot has been experiencing severe fifth wheel vibes lately. But everything gets mixed up when she runs with her first love, Olivia, who is starting over in Seattle after her divorce. This is especially true when Margot gives Olivia a much-needed place to crash. Can Margot trust the girl who once broke her heart again?
No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey
No Rings Attached
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Bookseller Lia only made up having a girlfriend to get her mother to stop berating her, but now that her brother's wedding is quickly approaching, she is forced to stick to her narrative. Her best friend introduces her to Grace, who recently relocated to London, the location of the wedding, and accepts Lia's invitation to go on a date with her. But a series of mishaps (just one bed! ), especially when it comes time to say goodbye and they discover they're not at all prepared to do that, make it a weekend full of unpleasantness.
In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae
In the Event of Love
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Morgan will have to take on an event in the small hometown she never wanted to see again in order to save her budding publicity career when an awful catastrophe threatens to destroy everything. The girl who crushed her heart after their first and only kiss, Rachel, is still in Fern Falls and has transformed into a seductive lumberjack, which only serves to worsen the situation. Morgan is the ideal candidate to help Rachel's family's tree farm since she can demonstrate that she is still at the top of her public relations game by organizing the world's greatest fundraiser.
Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner
Mistakes Were Made
Photo courtesy of Amazon
With a sophomore that mocks the slow-burning face of their debut by opening with a hookup that'll have you fanning your face for days, Wilsner displays their serious romance range. The said connection involves Cassie, a senior in college, and Erin, an attractive older woman she meets at a pub and who Cassie soon discovers is the mother of one of her best friends. The delicate balancing act of keeping that night a secret while giving in to the sexiest chemistry either of them has ever felt begins, which is made much more difficult by the fact that they are going on a full break together. Can they say goodbye when their vacation comes to an end, or is there something here that they simply cannot ignore, no matter the price?
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Being named valedictorian of her high school has been Chloe Green's main motivation since she relocated from Southern California to a rural Alabama town. But when Shara Wheeler, her competitor for valedictorian, kisses her a month before graduation, Chloe is left looking for explanations—and Shara herself. Chloe will have to work with Shara's quarterback boyfriend and her bad-boy neighbor to decipher the cryptic notes they have each received in order to find out where she has gone. Can Shara be located and brought back in time for graduation?
Diane Hayes is an online writer and editor.
Finding suitable healthcare can be difficult for everyone, but those in the LGBTQ+ community have an extra hurdle to contend with: finding a healthcare practitioner who is not only supportive of LGBTQ+ folk but also experienced in treatments that are more likely to be required by members of the community.
Everyone deserves to be able to access healthcare that suits them, so why is this often so hard for LGBTQ+ people to find?
Seven out of ten LGBTQ patients report having negative experiences while accessing healthcare, and this is completely unsurprising when you consider the shortage of healthcare practitioners who are well-versed in issues that are overrepresented in, or even exclusive to, the LGBTQ+ community.
Hormone replacement therapy, experience treating intersex patients, gender affirmation surgery, and HIV treatment and prevention are only a handful of things that a professional working closely with members of the LGBTQ+community should be experienced in and comfortable with, but how many are?
Unless your healthcare practitioner takes a particular interest in these areas or has significant experience in dealing with them, it’s likely that they have only spent a measly five hours studying LGBTQ+ issues as part of their medical training. This can create an unfortunate catch-22 situation where doctors do not feel comfortable treating these conditions, leading to avoidance and lack of opportunity to build up their knowledge and real-world experience.
Under-representation Of LGBTQ People In The Medical Community
While more comprehensive training would go some way to increasing access to high-quality healthcare for LGBTQ people, studying can only go so far; those with lived experience of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community can offer insights and empathy that those outside the community cannot, despite their best efforts.
Stanford University conducted a study that found that 30 percent of medical students who were part of the LGBTQ+ community hid their sexual or gender identity. In addition, around 40 percent of medical students who self-identified as “not heterosexual” said that they were wary of facing discrimination. If we extrapolate this to healthcare professionals in the workplace, it’s not surprising that it can be hard for LGBTQ patients to find a practitioner who is also openly part of the community.
Encouraging more LGBTQ people to enter healthcare professions, and ensuring that those who are already working in healthcare feel able to embrace their sexuality or gender identity, are key to helping LGBTQ patients find healthcare that meets their needs.
Bias And Stereotypes
Whether intentional or subconscious, bias and harmful stereotypes are endemic throughout the medical community. “For example, from the moment you enter the waiting room and are handed paperwork asking your gender, with only male and female boxes available to tick, you can be made to feel unwelcome, misunderstood, and alienated,” explains Benita Martines, a journalist at OXEssays and Paperfellows.
Due to previous negative experiences, LGBTQ people can feel reluctant to offer information about their sexual orientation or gender to a healthcare provider. Equally, professionals can be wary of asking for this information in case it offends the patient. As this information can have a very real impact on medical decisions, it’s crucial that the medical community get comfortable with discussing these issues in a way that includes and empowers LGBTQ folk.
Lack of Transgender Care
“The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently conducted a survey which revealed that a shocking 19 percent of trans and gender non-conforming people have been refused medical care,” explains Mark Dobbins, writer at Boomessays and UKWritings.
In addition, transphobic terminology is rife in the medical community and is often used without consideration of how unwelcome it can make trans patients feel. Worryingly, the same survey found that half of the respondents have had to explain some transgender-specific medical terms to healthcare professionals.
Although the healthcare industry has a long way to go in becoming inclusive, accessible, and supportive to members of the LGBTQ+ community, progress is being made. For example, John Hopkins University School of Medicine has updated its curriculum to help its graduates care for a more diverse range of patients.
In the meantime, finding a healthcare provider who is understanding and supportive of your needs can feel like an impossible task, but don’t give up; everyone deserves good healthcare, and there are some excellent LGBTQ+-friendly practitioners out there.
- How to Find a Queer-Friendly Therapist that Works - OutVoices ›
- Top 5 Mental Health Apps for the LGBTQ+ Community - OutVoices ›