Kitchen Tips - June 2011

Picnic TimeSummer has finally arrived in Minnesota, so what better way to enjoy this great weather than with a picnic. Whether it is on the deck in your backyard, at the beach or a local park, here are a few tips to make dining al fresco fun and easy.

  • Glass canning jars are the perfect individual, reusable containers for beverages and salads. Their screw bands and metal lids will keep everything intact and can be stacked in a cooler for easy transporting.
  • Use a colorful beach towel as a table cloth. It's durable and washes easily.
  • Place sprigs of fresh rosemary on top of charcoal to lightly scent the air and add flavor to whatever you are grilling.
  • To keep salads cold longer when serving, fill a large bowl with ice cubes, then spoon your salad into a slightly smaller bowl that will nestle on top of the ice.
  • Use a small wicker or plastic basket as a condiment caddy. Keep ketchup, mustard, etc. in this basket in the refrigerator to have everything you need in one handy place. Just move it from the refrigerator and back as you need it.
  • So you don't have to plan ahead when cooking food on a wooden plank or wooden skewers, soak them ahead of time in water for an hour or so. Remove from water and store in the freezer in a plastic storage bag so they are ready at a moment's notice.
  • It is often a better option to serve food inside and bring it outside to eat, especially on a hot, windy day. Have a supply of serving trays and paper placemats on hand to make carrying your plated food, beverage, silverware and napkin easier. Trays can be purchased inexpensively from a restaurant supply store.
  • An easy, do-ahead dessert is Caramelized Banana Sundaes. Make individual foil packets that contain sliced bananas, butter and brown sugar. A splash of rum or chocolate chips can add a surprising flavor as well. Store them in the refrigerator and heat on the grill when it's time for dessert. Serve over scoops of vanilla ice cream. It's so easy!
  • For a little friendly competition, gather several lawn games such as lawn bowling, bocce ball, bean bag toss and ladder ball. It's a good way to get everyone involved, especially if you are entertaining guest that may not know each other.

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