Contributed by: News Canada
(NC) - Whether you spend a week or a weekend at the cottage or cabin this summer, an important part of your holiday fun involves sharing good meals with friends and family.
Summer is the time to kick back, relax and soak up the sun. Although we all want to eat well while we're at the cottage, nobody wants to spend all day cooking over a hot stove in the kitchen. Your barbecue grill is the ideal solution to keep the heat out of the house and keep you cool while cooking. You can grill great al fresco meals that are perfect for casual family dining and large gatherings.
Before heading out to the cottage, plan ahead for the meals you'll want to prepare to ensure that you will have all the ingredients on hand when you get there. Decide on what you will serve, then make a thorough list of fresh ingredients and staples before you leave home. Make special note of unusual spices or special gourmet or ethnic ingredients required for specific recipes. Remember, once you arrive at your destination it won't be easy to find city-style specialty shops down cottage country roads.
Take short cuts and simplify. Consider pre-marinating meats and freezing them before you head out to the cottage. Pre-cook and freeze sauces or combine spice mixtures for special dishes and dressings at home to save space. Look for convenient dried sauce, rub and marinade mixes at the supermarket or specialty shop to simplify cottage cooking.
Make sure you keep your perishable groceries safe and cool on the trip. Pack frozen meats in coolers with perishable vegetables and dairy products. Remember to bring fresh salad ingredients like lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes and staples like eggs, butter, milk, cheese and sour cream and chill them before packing. On the way to the cottage, plan to stop at roadside stands for the freshest local, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Dinners that can be stretched with extras like bread and salads are perfect for cottage meals to make it easy to accommodate neighbours and impromptu guests who inevitably drop by for dinner. Think about stocking some shelf stable rice pilaf mixes or pastas/sauce combinations in your cottage pantry to augment meals in a hurry. Canned beans and potatoes, tuna, salmon or flavoured pastas can be mixed with fresh vegetables and bottled salad dressings for quick pot luck salads.
It's also wise to stock the cabin pantry and refrigerator with the kind of foods that can be turned into fast appetizers and desserts. Make sure you have plenty of crackers on hand to serve with a selection of cheeses. Buy tins of stuffed Italian olives, smoked oysters and anchovies. Stock snack foods like tortilla chips and pretzels, jars of salsa and dried soups or herb mixes for dips.
Keep a supply of good quality mayonnaise and salad dressing in the refrigerator, a variety of barbecue sauces and jars of basil pesto, coriander chutney and curry pastes to add to rubs or combine for dipping sauces and vinaigrettes.
Fresh, canned or frozen fruits like oranges, apples, melons, peaches and berries make fast fruit salads or cobblers. Bring plain or lemon yogurt to top fruit desserts and lay in a supply of good homemade or store-bought shortbread and Italian biscotti to serve alongside for fast finales.
Keep kids happy with watermelon or campfire desserts like roasted marshmallows and S'mores (graham wafers layered with hot, gooey marshmallow and a square of your favourite melted chocolate bar), roasted on the barbecue grill on a toasting fork.
And don't forget mornings and rainy days. Stock flour, sugar, chocolate chips, butter, rolled oats, pancake mix and granola cereals for baking and breakfasts. Bring frozen breakfast sausages, ham or back bacon to cook on the grill. If you are staying at the cottage for a while, bring the bread machine and some bread mixes so you're never out of fresh bread for picnic lunches and morning toast. Keep an updated list of staples at the cabin or cottage and make a note to restock when supplies run low.
To get you started, we've included lists for both shelf-stable pantry products and weekly fresh supplies for stocking your holiday home larder.
Best of all, we've developed some easy grilling recipes to take the heat off the host at your next weekend getaway. Plus, we've included fast fixings that you can buy at the local deli counter or ethnic grocery store to round out the menu in style.
Whether it's something exotic like grilled tandoori-style chicken with cool yogurt sauce or tender marinated lamb skewers with subtle Greek flavours, these recipes are sure to please all tastes. They can be doubled or tripled if there are more friends to feed and all the recipes work well with salads, breads and other easy extras.
So head out, cool down and have fun this summer. The living is easy around the grill!
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