July 4th Cooking Tips

I’m off to California for the 4th. Yes, for those of you keeping track, this means traveling across country – a close to 7 hour flight, with 3 month old Finn. But this is the only way he’ll get to meet his California cousins; so in the spirit of family-togetherness and also in the spirit of getting the hell out of New York City because it is going to be mid 90’s for the next week and I can’t handle it one day longer – we’re going.  And besides, I think our (or “your”, since technically I’m still Canadian) forefathers would want us to …

As for food, though it will just be the family, there will be many mouths to feed and as you all know, once you get beyond, say six mouths, you need a system. Here are a few tips which might help.  Many thanks to The Sweet Beet Facebook “fans” for sending in some of these fab suggestions!

  1. Serve foods that can be prepared well in advance so all you have to do is put them on a serving dish
  2. Choose foods that can be eaten at room temp eg. chicken or shrimp skewers
  3. Serve foods that get better with time…think 18 quart roasting pan with pulled pork, soaking up all the juices and getting tastier as the day wears on
  4. Room temp (or outside air temp) roasted vegs are sublime
  5. Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon
  6. When people offer to bring food be as specific as possible re what you need while still letting them bring what they want to cook (eg. ” Bring some version of a green salad with any twists you like” or “Bring some fruit that can be eaten with fingers”)
  7. Be aware when doubling (or tripling) recipes that the cooking time may also have to be adjusted but will depend largely on whether you’re using a longer pan (cooking time may not change) versus a deeper pan (it will take longer but as for how much longer – keep checking it.)
  8. Garbage bags are not just for garbage. Use a small white kitchen sized bag to mix a big salad and the dressing.
  9. Get all the serving platters and utensils ready before hand with a note re what goes on each. This will allow you to be sure you have what you need and makes it easy the day of, to have others help put things out.
  10. For foods that are better cool, put some freezer packs under a towel and sit the platter on the packs.
  11. Keep the extra food under the table that the food is served on and out of sight with the help of a large table cloth that hides all that’s beneath.  This way you don’t have to go to the kitchen to replenish the food, cups, napkins etc…
  12. Freeze giant ice cubes in muffin tins and add them to big pitchers of lemonade
  13. People generally prefer to self-serve drinks, so skip the cost of a drink-waiter and toss bottles of water, soda in cooler packed with ice.
  14. To keep wasps away throw dry coffee onto an open fire like the grill or a BBQ chimney. Apparently wasps hate coffee smoke.
  15. Have fun – no one but you cares about or even notices, all the “screw ups”.

Your tips?  Happy 4th!!

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Fig and Feta Salad (Nothing says summer like figs)

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  • Fred

    Ha!…..freeze’n  ice cubes in muffin tins….that’s unique! Have a happy trip Michele.

  • Fred

    Opps……….actually, I dew know how to spell your name: Michelle, there ya go!

  • Jen

    Love the muffin tin tip. Armatale brand platters can be put into freezer to keep cold foods chilled.

  • Gwyn Theodore

    I’m not sure it’s safe to use a garbage bag to mix or store foods. I was always taught they are lined with chemicals not safe for food.

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  • http://twitter.com/yakstr Chris

    You are way more organized than I am, maybe that’s why my meals for larger groups border on frantic sometimes.  I like the tip about coffee smoke and wasps, hadn’t heard that before.  I’ll have to try it out, maybe even by roasting green coffee over the fire sometime.