Monthly Archives: May 2014

Safe Holiday Grilling

In case you hadn’t

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Meat Temps

heard, the US Department of Agriculture recalled 1.8 MILLION pounds of ground beef earlier this week because it is contaminated with deadly E.coli bacteria.  Unfortunately, some of this contaminated ground beef made it to grocery store shelves (see list from the USDA here) which means you may have unknowingly purchased it.  We know that many of our friends will be grilling burgers this holiday weekend and since ground beef is likely the main ingredient for said burgers, we want to make sure you have this meat temperature chart handy.

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Adding an Outdoor Kitchen

Adding an Outdoor Kitchen doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project.  Devoting some time to research before begin will definitely pay off.  We have created a checklist that you can use as a reference to help you get started.

Location, location, location…

Think about placement and where you want your new space installed.  Are there any existing challenges like trees, water features etc.?  Is there adequate flooring already or will you be adding that as well?  How will you power your grill?  Do you have Natural Gas piped in to your house?  Or will your outdoor kitchen use propane?  Do you need to contact your utility provider?

Now is a good time to think about any particular shape or layout concerns.  Most outdoor kitchens are typically shaped like an “L” or a “U” depending on how much room there is.  Pay attention to access from other areas of your patio, yard and house.  An outdoor kitchen that is not easily accessible will not likely be used as often as you’d like.  For example, do you want any of the counter space to function as an area for sitting and eating as well?

Is shade, privacy, weather or lighting a concern?  Will you be incorporating features like a pergola or awning?  Will you need outdoor heating (i.e. patio heaters, fireplaces)

Function & Design

How do you anticipate using your outdoor kitchen? Are you the “go-to-grill-guru” of your social group?  The house where most cookouts tend to be hosted during holiday weekends?  Or are you the busy feeding your kids (and their seemingly endless parade of hungry friends) burgers and hot dogs every week?  Durability and maintenance is what to think about because if you plan to stay in your home (and use this outdoor kitchen) for at least 10 years, then think about how your needs may grow and change during that time as well.

The type of food will you be cooking will help determine what sort of equipment to buy.  Let’s say cooking steak is all you care about; then accessories like a rotisserie or pizza oven may not suit you but refrigerated storage might be a priority.  Side burners are typically a tremendous asset to any outdoor kitchen.  Matter of fact, I’m tempted to install just a side burner outdoors so that I can cook the “smellier” foods like onions or fish. Depending on the outdoor kitchen components installed, you may need to plan for plumbing and electrical work as well.

Final helpful tips:

1)     Obtain and compare warranty information about replacement parts BEFORE purchasing any equipment.  Are replacement parts for your equipment available?

2)     Stainless steel is extremely durable and can last a lifetime if properly maintained.

3)     Extreme weather (heavy snow or rain) may affect the location of your outdoor kitchen

4)     Combustible materials (wood) should be avoided in your design

5)     “Neutral” tones and finishes (countertop, back splash) are usually a good idea because most people will like them (think future buyers if you need to sell your house)

How to Throw a Fantastic Memorial Day Party

Memorial Day weekend is usually the kick-off of the summer.  Not only is the weather starting to warm up, but the kids are getting ready to get out of school, and summer planning is in full swing.

One great way to have a great Memorial Day weekend is to throw a fantastic barbecue for your family and friends.  Here are a few suggestions to help you in the planning and hosting a memorable Memorial Day party.

The first thing you need to do is to pick your venue.  If it’s a small gathering, consider your backyard, which can be a fun, yet intimate venue.  Memorial Day parties are also a great day to open up the pool.  If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, considering going to your community pool or local club.

Once you have your venue, the next thing to do is to pick a theme.  Themes will help you in your decorating, your menu, your invitations, and in picking your games.

Themes can be as simple or as elaborate as you want – you are only limited by your imagination. With the nature of the holiday, and as a great reminder that Memorial Day is to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in order for America to stay free, consider including patriotic colors and decorations in your theme, including an American flag. Make sure that you have plenty of festive decorations.

Balloons and streamers are a great way to get everyone into the party spirit.

The next step is to create your guest list and send out the invitations. Make sure that the size of your guest list is appropriate for your venue. Invitations can either be sent through traditional paper invitations or, for a more causal feeling, consider using the ever more popular email or electronic invitations.

Things that you need to plan before the big day are your menu, your set-up, and your activities.  Traditionally, Memorial Day parties are a great excuse to break out the barbeque.  Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken are standard Memorial Day fare, along with chips and dip, salads (including fruit, macaroni, and potato), and corn.  And make sure that you don’t forget the drinks and desserts.

Once you know your menu, make sure that you have tables set up that will handle all the plates of food. Set up tables and chairs that will accommodate all your guests as well as leave space for any games or activities that you want to have available.

Some of the most traditional Memorial Day activities include volleyball, horseshoes, and baseball, as well as pool games such as Marco/Polo, sharks and minnows, or races.

By following all these steps, you can make sure that you will have a fun Memorial Day party that will be enjoyed by all who come.