"All America has become enchanted with outdoor cookery. We love the informality of such a meal, our keen outdoor appetites, and the joy of watching the meat as it cooks to mahogany perfection. But most of all we marvel at the flavor of the food." - James Beard

Did the gourmet guru of all time survey Utahns? Evidence compiled in our June Recipe Exchange indicates Beard may have described all Americans except for our local group.If Beard had expanded his definition to include cakes or ice cream, we could have been screaming for the top of the list. Our love affair with sweet treats defies description. After all, those categories produced record numbers of reader recipes.

It's like Carol Bench says: "My dessert files are three times as large as all my other files combined."

Or as Karen Edson admits: "The dessert tabs are worn off my cookbooks."

That could be an explanation for the limited reader response to the barbecue exchange. But another seems more obvious.

In our minds we get excited about the barbecue season, but our enthusiasm drowned in the soggy weather of May. Who thinks of cooking outside when going outside requires rain gear, or worse yet, a snow shovel?

The June Recipe Exchange collected only a handful of recipes, but among those submitted, we tested some well worth trying on a sunny day.

Fire up the grill and join nearly 70 million Americans who cook over the coals. More of us own a barbecue grill than a microwave, though we often combine the two cooking processes.Cooking outdoors takes as many forms as barbecue sauces or marinades.

The majority of Americans prefer lighting charcoal, but an increasing number are turning to specialty-flavored mesquite or hardwood coals like hickory, maple and oak.

Using the specialty products creates a hotter fire and a more distinct smoky flavor in meats. For additional smokiness, soak hardwood chips in warm water before placing over heated charcoal.

Grill cooking uses both direct and indirect heat methods.

For direct heat, evenly space coals on the fire grate of the grill. The fuel bed should extend in a circle 2 to 3 inches beyond the meat.

With indirect heat like oven roasting, coals are piled equally on both sides of the fire grate in a covered grill. Place a dripping pan between the coals, then position larger cuts of meat directly over the pan. Cover and cook to desired temperature.

A gas-fueled grill simplifies outdoor cooking. The flip of a switch ignites the cooking surface and a meal is ready in minutes, though some flavor loss is experienced.

Marinades or sauces lend additional flavor to grilled foods. A marinade can perform miracles on fish and poultry, and especially on less tender cuts of meat.

Though barbecue sauces generate spicy flavors, they do little to tenderize meat. Acidic ingredients react to soften tough meat fibers.

The Beef Industry Council suggests guidelines for using marinades:

- To tenderize, a marinade must include an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, vinegar, wine or salsa.

- Allow 1/3 to 1/2 cup marinade per pound of beef.

- Reserve and refrigerate a portion of the marinade for basting during grilling.

- Marinate in a closed heavy-duty plastic bag or glass utility dish.

- Always marinate in the refrigerator.

- Marinate top round, chuck eye and thin strips for woven kebabs for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours; other less tender cut for 6 hours or as long as 24 hours. (Marinating longer than 24 hours causes the meat fibers on the surface to break down, causing a mushy texture.)

Marinades, compound butters or spice rubs are perfect for chicken and fish, both increasingly popular backyard grilled items. The mild flavors of fish and chicken complement the zesty addition of an herb marinade, a garlic butter basting or a pungent pepper rub.

Pungent flavors remain closeted in the recipe collections of barbecue enthusiasts nationwide. Each region claims a specialty and boasts possession of the ultimate barbecue concoction.

"Barbecue has its roots in the South and West," explains Nancy Byal, executive food editor of Better Homes and Gardens. "It has evolved and expanded over the years, with its flavor being shaped by regional tastes and variations."

Southerners crank out a vinegar/spice blend for pork, while true Texans know the only legitimate barbecue sauce is a tomato base fueled with chili sauce or chili oil. Westerners prefer their grilled offerings light and lean, with a smash of salsa on the side. Seafood takes priority in the Northwestern and Northeastern regions, while the heartlands favor a combination of several regional tastes.

The barbecue melting pot boils in Kansas City, where some of the country's premier chefs blend vinegars, smokes and spices to create prize-winning recipes.

Prize-winning recipes that are passed, like a dowry, from one generation to another.

"Buying your own barbecue and having backyard gatherings with your own family is an integral part of settling into your first home," claims Mike Kempster, senior vice president of sales for Weber-Stephens Products.

The backyard barbecue tradition, which began after World War II, blossomed into a time-honored, multigenerational activity.

Sunset Books published its first grilling cookbook in 1948, while Better Homes and Gardens notes the 50th anniversary of backyard cooking in the June issue of the magazine.

Byal explained the longevity of the cooking process: "Barbecue is a very social cooking technique that Americans were quick to embrace. With barbecue, the chefs can be many and can mingle easily with family and friends - even jump in and out of a softball game. It's a casual and relaxed way to entertain and spend time with the family."

Backyard cooking can be a great bonding activity for families with hectic schedules and hungry stomachs. According to Jennifer Foor, director of marketing for Weber, "With today's busy, two-income households, time at home has become even more precious. Barbecuing brings families together in a relaxed setting and comforts people with good-tasting food."

If the match didn't strike a fire yet, recognize it's time to share in the all-American cooking tradition and grill it.

*****

RECIPES\

Soy-Barbecued Shrimp\

Submitted by Ellen Koucos, Salt Lake City Approximate cost: $11.35, depending on size and price of shrimp Preparation time: 10 minutes prep, 2-3 hours marinating and 10 minutes cooking Yield: 6-8 servings Evaluation: Teriyaki-style shrimp in an easy-to-prepare marinade.

2 pounds large shrimp

Soy Marinade:

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup salad or olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Shell and devein shrimp, leaving tails on and arrange shrimp in shallow dish.

Combine ingredients for marinade, pour over shrimp and refrigerate 2-3 hours. Remove shrimp from marinade and thread on skewers. Grill 3 minutes, basting with marinade. Turn and grill 5 minutes more, basting several times.

Spicy Barbecued Chicken

Submitted by Alta Hall, Helper Approximate cost: $7.00 Preparation time: 11/2 hours, including cooking Yield: 4-6 servings Evaluation: More of a sweet and sour taste than spicy, but easy and delicious. All ingredients are usually on hand making this an easy recipe to whip up.

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 3-pound broiler-fryer For sauce, cook onion and minced garlic in water until tender. Stir in the catsup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, celery seed, dry mustard, salt, lemon pepper, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking.

Cut chicken into quarters. Season chicken pieces with additional salt, if desired. Place chicken pieces bone side down, over medium hot coals. Grill chicken for 25 minutes or till bone side is well browned; turn chicken. Grill 20-25 minutes more or till chicken is tender. Brush chicken often with sauce during the last 10 minutes of grilling.

*****

Barbecue-style Skillet French Fries\

Submitted by Norma Richardson, Heber Approximate cost: $3.00 Preparation time: 20 minutes Yield: 4 servings Evaluation: Tester's children thoroughly enjoyed recipe. Onion flakes browned too quickly so most were discarded before eating, but flavoring was retained.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 envelope dry onion soup mix

1 package (16 oz.) frozen crinkle-cut French fries

1/2 cup sharp American cheese, grated In heavy skillet melt butter over medium coals; stir in dry soup mix. Add frozen potatoes; stir to coat evenly. Heat over medium coals, turning as needed with wide spatula, until browned and heated through, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat; toss with cheese and serve.

*****

Tri-tip Marinade

Submitted by Deana Giles, Provo Approximate cost: About $5.97, depending on meat price Preparation time: 10-12 minutes plus marinating time Yield: 3-4 servings Evaluation: Tasty blend of flavors that would work for any less tender cut of beef. Tri-tip is a part of the sirloin, often called a Delmonico steak. Tester used London broil.

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon dry minced onion Bring marinade mixture to a boil; cool and pour over meat. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium coals and serve with fresh salsa.

*****

Grilled Soy-Lemon Halibut

Submitted by Fay Sargent, Salt Lake City Approximate cost: $12.85, depends on price of fish Preparation time: 2 1/2 hours including marinating time Yield: 4-6 servings Evaluation: Fast and easy; great for busy people who want a nutritious meal. Tester suggests reducing butter or margarine by 1 tablespoon. Excellent flavor and a pleasant change from lemon pepper on grilled halibut.

3 pounds halibut filets

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Lemon wedges Cut fish into serving-size pieces. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, mix marinade ingredients, turning to coat. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, turning several times.

Grill fish 4-6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals in a barbecue with a lid. Cook about 8 minutes, turning once. Cut center to check doneness. Transfer grilled fish to platter and garnish with lemon wedges.

*****

Tangy Mustard Ribs

Submitted by Pat Walker, Salt Lake City Approximate cost: $9.55 Preparation time: 3 hours including marinating time Yield: 4-6 servings Evaluation: Tender and juicy ribs with a tangy flavor.

3-3 1/2 pounds pork spareribs, cut into 2-3 rib portions

1 medium onion, cut in quarters

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

Sauce:

3/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon cayenne

2-3 teaspoons dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons flour

1 teaspoon pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt In Dutch oven-type pan, combine ribs, onion, water and salt. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until ribs are tender; drain.

For sauce, melt margarine. Combine remaining ingredients and stir in margarine. Heat in small saucepan, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and begins to boil. Brush ribs with sauce. Grill 10-20 minutes or until browned, turning and basting frequently during cooking process.

*****

Cheesy Potato 'n' Vegetable Foil Bake

Submitted by Alta Hall, Helper Approximate cost: $3.30 Preparation time: 15 minutes plus cooking Yield: 4-6 servings Evaluation: Camp-style side dish that complements grilled meat entree. Wrap like a foil dinner, being careful not to puncture foil.

6 teaspoons bacon bits

4 medium carrots, shredded

2 green peppers, sliced

3 potatoes, sliced thin

1/4 cup green onion, sliced

1/4 cup margarine

Salt and lemon pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, optional

1-1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated Tear off a 36-by-18-inch piece of heavy-duty foil. Fold in half to make 18-inch square. Fold up side, using your fist to from a pouch. Thinly slice potatoes into pouch; add carrots, green bell peppers and green onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and lemon pepper; dot with margarine and sprinkle with caraway seed. Fold edges of foil to seal pouch securely, leaving space for expansion of steam. Grill over slow coals 30-45 minutes or till done; turn several times being careful not to puncture foil. Open package; stir in bacon bits and cheese. Close pouch; return to grill for about 1 minute or until cheese melts. Makes 4-6 servings.