Summer Food Trends

The smell of the steaks on the grill, the taste of lemony sweetness in a cold glass of iced tea, and a tan in your own backyard – it doesn’t get any better than a summer afternoon grill out with family and friends!  So dust off your grilling utensils or buy some new ones for Dad, but instead of the same, old grilled meals, why not try something a little different this year?  Go ahead, impress the neighbors!

Gas grills are a common staple in many homes and most people are handy when it comes to them, but there’s something new to try this season:  smoking.  No, not the smoking that relieves stress from your nephew running in circles – smoking meat and poultry in a slow cook method to give it a naturally smoky flavor and fall-off-the-bone tenderness.  You can buy a smoker or even put your grill on a low heat and just leave it all day.  The “smoke” actually comes from smoldering wood chips, not the food, and they come in all sorts or flavors (you can even create your own flavored chips by soaking them in a liquid of choice).  We suggest trying a variety of chips to find out what flavor you like best.  Apple wood chips will give you a sweet, mild effect and is perfect if you’re not looking for anything exotic, mesquite chips are always a favorite and will work with most meats.  Keep in mind that these are just ideas, and there is no right or wrong way to smoke your food.  Mix and match, experiment and have fun with it.

With the economy on the rocks, Americans are less likely to travel abroad, but that doesn’t mean the taste buds have to suffer.  Bring a little bit of international flair to your next dinner party by adding jerk to a basic chicken dish and it’s Caribbean dining at its finest.  Is Mexican more your style?  No problem – add some jalapenos to a salad.  Subtle additions to a dish can really add to your cuisine and give an entire theme to your event if you choose to.

No summer meal is complete without a signature drink to go with it.  Try mixing yogurt with your favorite fresh fruit, and throw it in the blender with some ice for a refreshing cool drink.  Want  a twist on an old favorite?  Mix lemonade with honeydew and kiwi for a refreshing drink on a hot day, or try grenadine with seltzer and a cherry for an adult-style Shirley Temple.  If you’re having an evening event or want a party to really hop, add vodka to taste for any of the above and watch smiles form!