Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Plan Ahead for Memorial Day

May 26th is Memorial Day. If you are having a get-together with family and friends, as are many of us (Phoenix temperature predicted to ONLY be in the 90s for Monday, after a possibly rainy weekend and 105 yesterday and 110 today), here is a plan-ahead list to jump start the celebration.

Today: Invite your guests and plan your menu.

  • Are you going to invite friends and family? Is now a good time for a neighborhood party

  • What will you serve?

  • Are you going to grill?

  • Will you provide all the food or have a potluck?

  • What foods are 'outdoor friendly' (a cake with whipped cream frosting is, perhaps, not the best idea)? A large bowl filled with crushed ice with a smaller bowl inside will keep a mayonnaise-based salad - potato, coleslaw,etc. - a little safer outdoors. Where IS that large bowl?

  • Does Aunt Opal cook the best baked macaroni and cheese you've ever had? Can your brother fix a terrific pasta salad? If you are going to make potluck requests, call ahead of time to be sure they have enough time to assemble the ingredients and make the dish.

  • Do you want to mail invitations or call everyone? It might be little late to use snail mail at this point, but don't wait 'til the last minute to call, either.

  • Drinks: soft, hard, or both. Remember that this is one of the holidays when many cities use checkpoints to look for drunk drivers (I know this isn't the politically correct way to say it, but the truth is the truth) so you might want to set an early cut-off point for alcoholic drinks or be ready to offer rides to those who get a little tipsy. A bowl by the front door for everyone's car keys (Make a small sign that says: "Please park your keys here.") is easier than making someone give you their keys if they can get belligerent.

  • How much ice will you need? Crushed ice for the large food bowls and the daiquiris, cubes for soft drinks, separate ice cubes for the coolers, an ice ring with embedded fruit for the lemonade, punch or Koolaid bowl, etc. Or try: Counter-Top Icemaker

  • Veggie trays and green salads require salad dressings and dips - have a variety of flavors.

  • Desserts - what will last outdoors (I mentioned the whipped cream frosting above)? Melon balls, jello cake, fruit pies, etc.

  • Go 'green' with your plates and utensils. At least look for recycled paper plates and cups.

  • Put out a separate trash container labeled for aluminum cans and/or bottles.

  • Will you need citronella candles around the lawn or Tiki torches?

  • Do you have folding tables for the food and enough chairs for seating? Rent them or ask friends.

  • Will there be swimming, volleyball, badminton, horseshoes, etc.? What needs to be prepared for those activities?

  • Last, but not least, utensils, bread machine mixes and gadgets for summer grilling and cooking: The Prepared Pantry

And finally, from a terrific blog about planning your outdoor get-togethers, a list of things to do ahead of time:

Rich's Home Blog The stuff that’s not so fun right now but once people are over, you are glad that you accomplished it all:

  1. Clean the Grill-Manufacturers recommend that you wipe the exterior of your grill with an all-purpose cleaner, such as Simple Green. And after that our friends at Kalamazoo recommend a degreaser like Goo Gone Spray Gel for any difficult parts, putting in a little extra elbow grease as needed. Don’t forget the inside and check the booklet from your manufacturer for recommendations there. For my old charcoal Weber, I just use SOS pads on the racks, and then rinse them really well. You can also burn off any old grime on the racks.

  2. Find your Utensils-Look for the long tools now, my friend. Last minute does not give you time to run to the store if you can’t find one that you need.

  3. Mow the Lawn/Weed the beds-No instruction necessary here, right? Don’t forget to let the kids help. Water the flowers too and clean out things from the yard that look like clutter. Don’t forget litter and dog droppings (do this again right before your gathering) too.

  4. Clean the House-Especially the bathroom, gathering areas and the kitchen. Divide it up over the next several days so it’s not so daunting and again, the family can help.

This blog is also posted at: http://aznewsblog.typepad.com/az_news/phoenix_quicktime_recipes/index.html