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I can't even BEGIN to tell you the trouble I've gone through over the years in getting my family to participate in outdoor get-togethers. Whether it be picnics, cookouts, or camping trips, they just wouldn't friggen' budge off that couch. When I was a kid, my family and I did it every week. We'd typically pack up my father's van early on a Saturday morning, and hit a local park, campground, or, weather permitting, the beach. One of the staples of our little family trips was a small-little portable grill we'd bring to the majority of them. Even if we didn't use it, it would always be in the car—you know, just in case.
So I'm always a little flummoxed when I get a lot of pushback from my wife and two children. The kids are pretty much glued to their phones, and my wife, Maria, isn't necessarily the outdoorsy type. I get that, but I knew if I tempted them with food, it could be a different story. After all, my family is Italian, and eating has always been a hobby more than a necessary human function.
So as I looked for ways to coerce my family into going on such trips, that old rickety grill from my youth popped into my head. Could I try to emulate some of the things my family used to value? It was a tricky proposition, especially in today's technologically, smart phone-driven era.
I decided to find a way to unite the two eras in which I've lived. The grill, I determined, was the only way to do it, but I couldn't use some old piece of junk like the one my family used to lug around back in the day. I needed something that would cater to my Millennial children, and be easy enough to transport and store on a whim.
After doing a little searching, I came across the GoSun solar grill. What attracted me to the GoSun originally was its compact-ability, relatively affordability, and most importantly, its overall impact on the environment. Oh, and you know, the whole "no charcoal" thing.
A Portable Grill like No Other
I actually first came across the GoSun while I was watching National Geographic. It was sort of a bout of fate, because as I said earlier, I happened to be in the market for a portable grill and this one sort of fell into my lap.
I then went to their website, where I found three different iterations of the GoSun product—the GoSun Go, the GoSun Sport, and the original GoSun Grill. I personally went with the regular GoSun Grill because I was in the market for something more versatile and high-powered. For comparison's sake, I'll still look into some of the others, just in case your needs don't necessarily align with mine.
The Go is the most affordable and the most compact. It costs around $140 (last time I checked), and it only weighs around two pounds. Yes, you read that correctly—two pounds. The only caveat with the Go is the fact that it is so small that it takes a little longer to cook your food. Still, cooking a meal only takes around 20 minutes. The grill also comes with water boiling capabilities, so you can literally cook your meat and boil your potatoes at the same time. It might take a little longer, but if you're outside enjoying the weather, go for a hike or something and come back to a fully cooked meal.
If you're someone who prefers to bake everything in the oven, then you might want to go with the GoSun Sport. According to its website, the solar oven can help you bake, roast, or even steam a meal for two people in mere minutes. You can literally make anything from roasted chicken to chocolate chip cookies. If you're a camper, picnicker, or just someone who likes to hike, this can provide you some cheap, home-cooked meals—no matter where you are. Additionally, the GoSun ProPack on Amazon has the option of coming with a brew accessory for those of us who enjoy a cup of joe first thing in the morning.
Now here's what I ended up purchasing—the classic grill. I'm more of a burger/hot dog/chicken on the barbie kind of guy, so getting a grill seemed like a better idea than the oven; and obviously since I'm cooking for my wife and kids, I thought the grill would be a better fit than than the Go. If I was still a lone wolf though, I definitely would have at least considered the Go.
What I didn't realize—at least at first—is that the Grill also allows you to bake, steam, or boil a meal, much like the Sport. However, you can cook up to four times the food as the Sport, making it a no-brainer for my family (who rarely misses a meal). The Grill was a little pricey—it's around $700—but it's well worth the price with all factors considered. You only need a minimal amount of sunlight for it to work, and boy, does it work. No charcoal, no mess, and most importantly, I feel like a good person when I'm using this thing. Call me crazy, but I feel like I'm doing a real service to the environment when I'm cooking up some of my patented Tortorello burgers. Just a little bit of a disservice to the cow community, unfortunately.
Here's What Happened
So obviously, you guys are still just DYING to hear how my first little excursion with the GoSun Grill was. Well, it was delightful, to say the least.
I took my family to a nice little hiking spot near my childhood home in Bethel, Pennsylvania. After our three-mile hike, I set up shop in a remote area in the woods (no, this isn't the precursor to a horror movie).
So here lies my first eye opener. It wasn't a particularly nice day out (Al Roker failed me yet again!). It was pretty cloudy out, so I was hesitant to use it, despite the rave reviews about its ability to cook in cloudy weather.
Well my inklings were obviously incorrect, as the grill worked perfectly in the less-than-ideal climate. Admittedly, it took a few minutes to get it to the temperature I needed, but it still worked, nonetheless. I cooked up some burgers, chicken, and shrimp, and everything came out great. The burgers were cooked to perfection (we like them medium rare to medium) and there really were no glaring hitches. I was also able to boil some potatoes, and we had ourselves a nice little meal in the woods. Everything tasted like it was made in a full-fledged kitchen.
Needless to say, my family is now all gung-ho on hitting the great outdoors. Granted, it took A LOT of good food to do it, but it was well worth it. I couldn't be any more pleased with my GoSun, so if you're in the market for a portable grill, definitely give this thing a try.