4th of July Party Prep Tips

By: Joanne Cavis, UGA Cooperative Extension

Since I grew up in Baltimoreand Philadelphia, places with lots of historic sights and activities, I have many memories.  What have you planned to do with family and friends?   

FOOD:  Keep it simple.  Avoid very perishable foods that could be leftovers at cookouts to prevent waste due to the heat.  Develop your menu based on what is “on sale” or “best buy” or “in season”.  Have everyone bring a dish.  Keep hot foods hot on the barbecue grill.  Keep cold foods sitting in a dish that is on ice.  Put out small portions and replenish frequently.  At 90 degrees, food spoils in less than one hour.  Throwing out food is wasteful, therefore, expensive.

Sit out pitchers of ice water and lemonade.  Re-use plastic cups by writing names with a Sharpie on the cups.  Avoid sugary beverages – they’re high in calories and low in thirst quenching.

Shish-k-bobs, a meal on a stick, are easy to prepare ahead and fast cooking on the grill.  One-inch cubes of beef, pork, chicken or large cooked and peeled shrimp work well and will require about the same cooking time as the vegetables.  Choose squash, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, peppers cut in chunks or left whole if they’re baby-sized.  I put the cherry tomatoes on the ends of the skewers so they do not overcook.  Pineapple chunks are great, too, and the pineapple juice makes a good tenderizing component of a marinade along with soy sauce.  Marinate in the refrigerator and then throw out the marinade because it has meat juices in it.

Rice pilaf, rice salad, tri-color-twirl pasta (with Italian dressing) are good companions for a meal on a stick. . . as are grilled potatoes or corn on the cob.  Just keep the heat outside.  What about a watermelon cutting, “some-mores”, or fresh peaches, or a red-white-and-blue dessert pizza????

CLEAN is the primary principle for preventing foodborne illness.  Wash your hands frequently.  Wash and sanitize utensils, equipment, food preparation surfaces, and dishes containing raw meat, fish, seafood, poultry and eggs.  Prevent cross-contamination – separate – raw and ready-to-eat products.  Keep hand wipes and chlorine sanitizing disposable wipes handy.

Presentation of the food can make simple foods seem festive.  Look around your house.  What do have in red-white-and-blue?  Mix and match dishes, utensils, napkins, tablecloths, placemats, candles, lights, vases, accessories, flowers (real or fake).  Let your imagination soar.  Celebrate!!!

Joanne

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