When you’re throwing a barbecue, it’s about more than just food. It’s a vibe. And a time to dine under the stars. And a shared energy. Barbecue is a story that needs a great soundtrack. Here’s some music that has just the right attitude for barbecue. We’ll start with geography that links food and music.
The American South embraced and elevated barbecue – and gave rise to blues. Traditional blues draws from the work songs and spirituals of African Americans in the rural South, especially Texas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta. It was typically played by “roaming solo musicians on acoustic guitar, piano or harmonica at weekend parties, picnics and juke joints….”
Early 20th century dance band leader W.C. Handy
helped a national audience discover the Southern music, and migrations north
between the World Wars spread the sound to Memphis, Chicago, Detroit and beyond.
“Muddy Waters, who had lived and worked on a Mississippi plantation before
riding the rails to Chicago in 1943, swapped acoustic guitars for electric ones
and filled out their sound with drums, harmonica, and standup bass. This gave
rise to an electrified blues sound with a stirring beat that drove people onto
the dance floor and pointed the way to rhythm and blues and rock and roll.” Major
rock bands hit the charts with blues covers and adaptations, led by the likes
of the iconic Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
Jamaican jerk is a great form of barbecue. Reggae, the musical voice of Jamaica, suits summer nights and outdoor festivities just fine. Here’s good reading about reggae great Bob Marley, who helped this Caribbean sound go global and changed pop music forever. And listen to some reggae while enjoying this classic jerk chicken recipe for your wood pellet grill. Ya, mon!
While other musical genres might not be directly tied to barbecue’s roots, they play well all summer long and complement your cooking. Use these cues to build your playlist with some new choices on top of your old favorites, or check out what Spotify and Pandora have to offer.
a big BBQ? Give yourself time to work through all the necessary steps. A
systematic approach will free you up to enjoy good food, drink, and company on
the day of the event.
Checklist items fall into two buckets: Food and drink. And everything else.
FOOD & DRINK
Pick your menu. And go! You’re going to need ingredients,
and a schedule for putting it all together and serving it up right.
Meats, mains and sides—So you’re making a favorite recipe that serves 6 to 8. And your invitation list may be several times as many hungry guests. For big BBQ menu planning, calculate the number of servings needed and multiply every ingredient in the recipe accordingly.
Put specific quantities on your shopping list for every. Single. Item.
Condiments and buns for hamburgers and hot dogs—The bigger the event, the more likely you’re going to opt for burgers and sausages to serve the crowd.
The essentials: Ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, salsa, chopped or sliced onions
Buns! Go for uniformity or offer both whole wheat and white buns
Sauces—If homemade BBQ sauce is your thing, prepare several days in advance.
Rubs—Have correct quantity available and time for rub to make its magic.
Dessert—Serve up sweets that won’t melt or go bad in the heat.
Cakes and pies hold up well on the outdoor dining table
Goodies with chocolate need to be placed in their container on a platter of ice to avoid casualties
Beverages—Stock up on adult beverages and non-alcoholic quenchers.
Beer, cider, and wine are the basics
Non-alcoholic beverages can range from sparkling water to homemade lemonade to artisan root beers
And there’s always a thirst for the old-school soda standards in either big 2-liter bottles (cost-effective) or cases (convenient)
Grill gear—Check your gear the weekend before the event to make sure all the essentials are in good shape.
Tongs, fork, spatula, meat claws, a bristle brush for basting, a grill/oven mitt, apron, instant-read meat thermometer, a wire brush for cleaning the grill grate
Coolers and ice—You want your drinks cold to wash down all that hot grilled goodness.
Distribute coolers around the space, with a focus on the bar station
Table settings—Make sure you’ve got quantity to spare. Even for a big crowd, nice reusables can be a cost-effective choice.
Cups for the variety of beverages you’re serving
Plates for dining, plus forks, knives and spoons
Napkins in quantities that allow every guest to use several during the course of the party
Serving pieces—Pull the big party-sized pieces out of the cabinet and give them a quick rinse.
Platters, bowls and trays all come in handy at a big BBQ
Get the family out into the fresh air and bond over BBQ this Father’s Day—and all grilling season long. While you might just intuitively say ‘Yes!’ to the idea, let’s have fun and look at all the reasons this is a great plan for the family.
Cooking is a hands-on creative outlet for all ages
It’s healthy to eat home-cooked meals and preparing them together is even better
Education—from measuring to fractions to cooking times (Get a cool education about the science of grilling here)
It’s an alternative to screen time—tho recruiting the kids to research recipes online is completely legit
Just plain togetherness
Let’s get cooking!
Grilling safety for kids
Grilling involves a whole array of hot and sharp objects. Gauge the maturity level of your crowd and assign them age-appropriate activities. Assignments for the younger kids can include mixing and marinating, laying out trays of uncooked meat to bring to the grill, measuring and assembling ingredients, and tossing salads. Knife handling and cooking on the hot grill belong in the domain of older children.
Food safety around the grill is part of kitchen sanitation—a good habit to start young. Since grilling involves handling raw meat, proper handwashing practices rank high in importance. Remember to also provide instruction about washing cutting boards, trays, tabletops and any other surfaces that might carry raw meat juices. Finally, refer to expert references (in this case, the US government’s food safety site) for grilled meat temperatures that meet the safety standard. This highly-rated, well-priced, long-probe digital meat thermometer might be the perfect new grilling gadget for the occasion (and a Father’s Day gift idea if anyone is looking for hints). Here’s a Father’s Day grilling gift guide, coming to you directly from the dads at Griller’s Gold.
Father’s Day grilling favorites
Everything’s better when it’s grilled. Kids happen to agree with that statement. So put vegetables on the Father’s Day menu; grill portabello mushroom caps or multi-colored veggie skewers. Enjoy fancy sausage, nice steaks, shrimp, or the always-fun drumsticks on the grill.
You pay attention to the food you grill. So set the mood for a special outdoor dining experience every time you set the table. And surround your patio or deck with color and light. When you pick your outdoor tableware and other accessories, keep both functionality and visual appeal in mind. Plan thoughtfully, enjoy your creativity, present your grilled creations in style—and you might never use Styrofoam cups again.
PLATES, CUPS, FORKS AND KNIVES
Whatever you’re eating outdoors, these are the essentials. We recommend that you choose tableware that’s 1. Unbreakable and 2. Reusable. While the initial cost for sturdy, colorful, dishwasher-safe plastic plates and drinkware might be higher than the cost of a package of disposables, you break even after just a few uses. Bamboo plates also offer a natural, reusable and outright handsome choice for your table—explaining their increasing availability at affordable prices. Either option is more eco-friendly than paper or styrofoam—respecting the great outdoors where you enjoy grilling and dining.
Note that many of the less expensive bamboo, wheat straw and palm fiber plates are biodegradable and compostable, but not reusable. Check for cleaning instructions before finalizing the purchase.
And having a range of designs is just plain prettier
Choose plates and cups that look great in and outside your home and demonstrate your good
taste. As for flatware, you can find reusable, affordable forks and knives in
either durable plastic or stainless steel or even bamboo. You can go high end or shop the
big boxes, but the dollar store is also a treasure chest of choices.
When it comes to putting reusables in dishwashers, it’s good to make a few notes:
Plastic does better on the top rack.
Any drinkware (plastic or glass) that has printed designs or lettering is safest in the sink.
PLATTERS AND SALAD BOWLS
Handsome, good-enough-for-the-holidays metal serving platters make lots of sense outdoors. They’re unbreakable. And they’re great for bringing meat out to the grill. Cutting boards also do double-duty for food prep and carrying between kitchen, grill and table. They all clean up with ease, but remember to give a quick wash to anything that’s transported raw meat before using it again. Metal and plastic salad bowls seem made for outdoor dining. Plastic tongs and salad servers offer convenience.
BBQ lovers who want to opt for sustainability can thoughtfully choose their napkins for outdoor dining. Pick darker colors and prints that can stand up to a few stains. And don’t expect them to look absolutely perfect.
DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR BACKYARD
Outdoor lighting does brilliant things to create atmosphere and polish. Many stores have an array of fun decorative light strands and lanterns.
Finally, let your garden be part of the décor
Move bright clay or plastic containers full of colorful
plants to the corners of your patio and deck. Have fun
coordinating your tableware and serving pieces with the flowers that
bloom around your yard, too!
*Shopping for special, memorable wedding gifts? Buy an upscale metal serving platter or salad bowl that will become an heirloom, or put together a complete set of outdoor tableware for the happy couple. Everyone deserves to enjoy beautiful outdoor dining, summer after summer.
Make the space where you enjoy your grilled creations as
good as the food. Plan your outdoor dining area for maximum comfort, minimum
maintenance, and a touch of your style. Create room for food-friendly fun times
all summer long.
Take a seat
Your biggest investment will be in seating and furniture.
You’ll want to start with a plan. Do you want to sit around a dining table or
prefer a conversation set with chairs, loveseat or couch, and a low table for
your food and beverages? What’s your available space? It’s important to take
measurements. Remember to allow room to move between and around your furniture
pieces as you arrange them on your lawn.
Just like food, furniture relies on ingredients. Different
materials used in outdoor furniture construction deliver their own unique
benefits. Here’s a little to think about when looking at furniture frames.
Wood — natural, sturdy and substantial. It’s a renewable resource, too. If you’re especially interested in sustainability, search out products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).*
Metal — stable, solid and generally weatherproof. Metal curves, so armrests are comfortable and design variations abound.
Wicker and resin weaves — lighter weight for easier moves, traditional patio look.
Your furniture might come with seat cushions. Or, you could buy them separately, giving you the freedom to pick from a multitude of colors and patterns. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that different fabrics offer different levels of UV protection. The higher price points apply to the cushions with the most protection from the sun; they’ll last longer without fading.
Be prepared to measure when you’re buying your own cushions. Size up both the seat width and seat depth, plus back height and back width when that applies. Note if the back of the seat is rounded or square. And take measurements for back cushion height from the top of the seat cushion to the top of the frame’s backrest — so everything fits and none of the cushions hang over the edge. For loveseats and sofas, measure all the way across the seat and then divide by the number of seats the piece provides to get the width of your individual seat cushions.
To umbrella or not to umbrella?… Think about how much sun your dining area gets, and whether you’re going to use it more in the evening hours, daytime, or a mix.
Outdoor rugs help define your space and add more color. With the growing popularity of this outdoor décor element, you’ll find a range of prices and designs in weatherproof, durable materials. Coordinate your rug with the color palette of your seat cushions — and even the colors of the flowers in the surrounding yard.
What to eat in
outdoor dining rooms
Once you’ve put together your beautiful outdoor dining room, it’s time to think about menus that earn their place in your new space. Here is a selection of great grilled vegetable side dishes to accompany whatever protein you love.
Now all that’s left to do is get your dinner invitations out!
*FSC is a not–for–profit organization that ensures wood has been harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally appropriate and economically viable. At Griller’s Gold, we believe in sustainable sourcing of wood for our all-natural premium BBQ pellets.
Honestly, smoking with cherry wood pellets is a grand idea
There’s something about cherry that encourages forthrightness — remember the folk story* of the young George Washington owning that chopped-down cherry tree? You can believe pretty much every good thing you hear about cherry trees, their fruit and their wood.
Cherry trees mature quickly and produce their first crop of fruit within three to four years of planting in the orchard. Their sensitivity to damage from rain and hail, plus the costs of irrigation, spraying and labor, make cherries a relatively expensive fruit crop, but their popularity justifies the investment. The two main cultivated species are the ones we eat fresh and others we cook: sweet cherries (P. Avium) and sour cherries (P. Cerasus). Both originated in Europe and Western Asia and grow in temperate regions of the US.
Sweet cherry crops grow mainly in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The list of sour cherry-producing states leads with Michigan, followed by Utah, New York and Washington. The Cherry Capital of the World, Traverse City, Michigan, hosts the National Cherry Festival every summer and vies with nearby Charlevoix in trading off the title for the world’s largest cherry pie. (One recent report mentions the Guinness Book of World’s Records marker in Traverse City for a pie weighing 28,350 lbs and measuring 17′ 6″. Both cities exhibit giant pie pan roadside attractions, which might inspire some summer travel ideas.)
Cherry is edible and beyond… Because of its rich color and fine grain, cherry wood finds use in interiors and furniture — flooring, cabinetry, tables, desks and chairs.
Cherry blossoms inspire admiration around the world, figuring in haiku poems and art from Japan. In Washington, DC, the nonprofit National Cherry Blossom Festival “commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city… and celebrates the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.” Today’s Festival spans four weeks and welcomes more than 1.5 million people. (It’s a favorite spring tourism adventure and you’re invited!)
Smoking with cherry wood pellets
Cherry wood adds a sweet and medium-smoky flavor suited to proteins ranging from beef and pork through duck, chicken and fuller-flavored seafood. The smoke also brings an appetizingly rich brown color to the surface of the foods for which it’s used.
And for a perfect dessert after your cherry-smoked entrée, bake a pie using this homemade cherry pie filling. It requires just five ingredients, including fresh cherries. Baker Veena Azmanov also suggests cherry pitting tools in this piece, in case you want some new gear to enhance your culinary game.
*Somewhat ironically, the George Washington cherry tree ‘I-cannot-tell-a-lie…’ story isn’t true. According to mountvernon.org, the tale was added only in the fifth edition of the early biography, The Life of Washington. The author, Mason Locke Weems, was an itinerant minister who wanted to credit Washington’s public greatness to his private virtues, including honesty. So he fabricated this account to make Washington a role model for youth.