As we continue on through Summer thoughts of picnics, warm nights and time with friends and family fill your mind. For me, our summer barbeques with friends are some of my fondest memories. For this edition of Back to Basics, here are a few neat ways to decorate for your festivities, while keeping patriotic and ‚Äòbasic‚Äô!
First thing first; let‚Äôs get the table in order. This can be done relatively inexpensively and leave you stress-free to enjoy your celebration.
- I seem to always be looking for something to hold down the napkins. So put a piece of spare scrap wood to use. You know there is at least one lurking out in the garage that could do the trick! Wash it down and paint a catchy little American homage on it. Stars and stripes match any BBQ.
- Mason jars (yes, I know, I find 100 ways to use mine) can be used to hold utensils. Add a quick string of spare ribbon and enjoy the instant d√©cor.
- Worried about the table itself? Create a chic tablerunner from brown packing paper and dress it up a little with some coordinating paint accents to match the napkin weight. Don‚Äôt forget to keep some spare space on the runner to keep the kids busy drawing too!
- When the sun goes down, light up your picnic space with luminaries! Start saving your tin cans now! Luminaries can easily be made with some cans, a nail, hammer and a little imagination. Use the nail and hammer to tap light holes in the can in whatever pattern/shape you desire. I‚Äôve seen some really neat ones – from making star shapes on the cans to intricate patterns. Drop in a tea light and voil√† – instant atmosphere and light!¬† Even better, use a citronella candle to help repel mosquitoes and other unfriendly, dusk-loving insects.
How about that grill?¬† Does it need a good cleaning yet?¬† Here are some simple ways to clean that grill and keep it clean all summer long.
- Coca-Cola and aluminum foil:¬† crumple the foil up (shiny side out), dip it in the soda and rub.¬† This works great for removing stains, rust, etc from the chrome and can help keep the grates clean too.
- Brush and baking soda:¬† Dampen a brush, dip in baking soda and scrub.
- Fire:¬† crank up the knobs (or add some extra charcoal) and cook off any remaining grease and food and then scrub with a stiff-wire-bristle brush and some water.
Keeping hot food hot and cold food cold.¬† Before you break out that old cooler or try to figure out how to re-arrange your kitchen and fridge, read our tips:
Keep it cold
- Wading pool: fill with ice and place under a tent or in a shaded area.¬† Great for drinks and snacks for little ones and as the ice melts, you have a place to cool your feet or a huge water bowl for outside animals.¬† You can purchase a smaller, inflatable pool to go up on tables, fill with ice, cover the ice with a table cloth or with plastic decorations and set your bowls of salads and condiments in it to keep cool.
- Are you making something that freezes well?¬† Freeze it and bring it frozen.¬† If you time it right, it will thaw in time to eat and still be at the temperature it should be.
- Freeze chunks of fruit with a high water content and use them as the ice cubes in drinks or to cool down a punch bowl.
- Use frozen bottles of water or juice to keep a cooler cool.¬† As it melts in the bottle, you have extra drinks and less mess.
- Ensure your cold foods are at the proper temperature for several hours prior to transporting with other cold foods.¬† It’s actually best to prepare picnic foods either the night before or several hours before the event. This way, picnic foods will be thoroughly chilled.
- Bowls that nestle can be a great way to keep foods cool.¬† Fill the bottom bowl with ice and nestle the smaller bowl with the food inside of it.
- If you are using a cooler, be sure the seal on the lid is not cracked and that the lid stays closed.¬† Only get in when you need to.
Keep it hot
- Prepare and cook hot food just prior to leaving for the event.
- A cooler’s insulation doesn’t just keep cold things cold, it works great at keeping hot things hot.¬† Wrap your dish in foil and then a towel and place in a cooler.¬† This is true of any insulated cover.
- Add heat packs to the cooler but keep them away from the food.¬† Set under a glass bowl and be sure they are wrapped in foil.
- Leave food covered at the event until it is time to eat to maintain the temperature.
- Use a tinfoil “hat”. Make a tent with the foil with the shiny side down to keep food warm, and cover things to retain the heat.
- Bowls that nestle (yes, another dual use) can be used for hot things too.¬† Hot water in the larger bowl will keep food warm, fresh and moist.
- Crockpots, chafing dishes and food warmers are great at a backyard BBQ where power is easily available.¬† Don’t forget an extension cord and/or power strip.
- Warm stones and granite can help keep the warm foods at temperature.¬† Be sure they have the chance to soak up the sun!
And last, but certainly not least, the food!¬† Favorite foods to grill?¬† Well, pretty much all of them!!
- Burgers and hot dogs
- BBQ chicken
- Kabob with meat or vegan style
- Grilled corn, peppers, squash, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, bell pepper – the list is nearly endless
- Fish burgers
- Shrimp or Lobster
- Fruit:¬† Peaches, apricots, watermelon, figs, pineapple (these are all perfect for grilling)
- You can’t grill it, but don’t forget ice cream and popsicles!
So now that you know what you need, see who in your area has it for sale!¬† Check out SargesList for great deals on backyard basics!
From all of us at SargesList, have a happy weekend!