Barbeque Tips Part Two: Making A Meal of Eating Outdoors!
Tips for Great Outdoor Eating
Ok, so last time I gave you some tips on Barbeques, cooking with Barbeques and Barbeque recipes - now for the stuff that your wife will love! Tips on how to make a barbeque a really great outdoor meal; these are a few ideas and tips on how to use detail to change your barbeque from a bog standard burnt sausages, dangerous chicken and plastic plates into the sort of outdoor meal you would be willing to pay for!
Your Barbeque Space
This probably sounds kinda silly but have you really thought about where you are going to hold your barbeque? In the garden is the obvious answer but even in the smallest garden there are options. Ideally your barbeque itself (as in the cooking utensil!) needs to be sheltered from wind in a spot that may provide a little overhead shelter in case of inclement weather and also needs to be far enough away from your eating area that you won't smoke out your guests but close enough that you can still socialise. Also think about proximity or access to the fridge so it's easy to grab the next item of food you're planning to cook. Think about a table to keep serving plates, utensils and your own drink handy!
Once you have positioned your barbeque think about the space you are going to entertain you guests in. Space for both standing and sitting is essential - I'm going to assume you have outdoor tables and chairs for eating off - also think about providing shade, a nice big umbrella will do, and access to drinks. If you don't have a big enough cool box then a big plastic storage box filled with cold water and ice will keep drinks cold. There are also some really easy and relatively cheap ways to make a plain patio or lawn a lot more elegant; some potted flowers will do the trick nicely as will flares or candles but if you're going to use them then make sure they are safe with kids running around. You can use flowers, candles, flares and similar to mark out the space in which you are going to entertain. For a really special occasion you could also use dried flower petals to cover the floor (as long as it's not too windy!).
Barbeques and Dining Tables
There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't use a beautifully laid table just because you are eating outdoors. Quite simply all you need to do is take into account the fact that you are eating outdoors! To keep you table cloth on the table even with a bit of wind simply weight it down - you can do this with heavy place mats, but a great tip is to take some clothes pegs and use a piece of string to tie a weight to each peg (if you go to a party shop you should be able to find the weights they use for helium filled balloons and they do some which are designed and not too ugly!) simply peg a weight to each corner of the table cloth and maybe in the middle too. Any table decorations should have a low centre of gravity to make them stable - you could use bowls of water with flower petals and floating candles for example. If you don't like the idea of using your crockery and cutlery outside then go to a good department store and pick up some good quality barbeque/picnic plastic - some of them are almost difficult to tell apart from real crockery so there is no reason to use ugly crockery! Having a well laid and attractive place setting really does turn a barbeque into a special meal.
Making an Event out of a Barbeque
You know you don't actually have to do all your cooking on the barbeque! Go to a good camping store and pick up a portable gas hob. They are about the size of a place mat with a butane can like a deodorant aerosol. With one of these you can easily cook at the dinner table and really wow your guests! Try some prawns - place a frying pan on your portable gas hob and heat it with some spray oil in then try one of these recipes; make some garlic butter (crushed garlic and butter mixed up) and fry your prawns in it (you need big green prawns - they are cooked when thoroughly pink through but don't overcook them or they will turn tough), alternatively go to your local Asian supermarket and pick up some sweet chilli sauce - you can either fry the prawns in it or use it as a dipping sauce. Garlic Prawns and Sweet Chilli Prawns, easy, yummy and will definitely impress your guests!
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