Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fitting a Bar-B-Q for 25 into the Budget

Although we build our Independence Day celebrations around the history marked by the occasion, we also look forward to the food, family and fun of the equally traditional 4th of July Bar-B-Q.
This year, we themed it as an old-fashioned, red, white and blue, birthday party and it couldn't have been any better with lobster and crisp linens.I love the versatility of my chalkboard. It's just a piece of Masonite that I painted with blackboard paint and placed in an old frame, distressed to "shabby chic" with a coat of white paint and sandpaper. When the chalkboard is not heralding some special event, I use it as a fireplace shield. It almost disappears behind the firescreen and hides the unsightly, sooty view.
Everyone attending shared in both the effort and the cost by bringing something. The drinks cleverly kept with the color theme with the blue labeled bottles of water and red cans of Coke. The wash tubs were perfect containers and my prized, very old chair made a perfect stand.
Although new and a gift from a daughter, the frosty lemonade container looked equally old-fashioned sitting on an old step stool and made it easy for the children to get their own refills.
All decorations were from years past, just re-purposed. The patriotically painted, slat basket was the ideal container for baguette halves. And although I didn't think to get a photo of it, we used an old, weathered section of redwood fencing set on sawhorses as a buffet/serving table.
So as not to break my self-imposed budget, a couple of months ago I began purchasing and freezing the slabs of pork ribs and beef brisket. Here's my hint for not slaving over a grill for hours while you have guests: Brine the ribs and apply rub or marinade to the brisket overnight. Spend your time at the grill early in the morning. Then, sauce and wrap each slab or brisket tightly in double layers of heavy duty foil just when they look gorgeous, long before they are actually done. Keep them on a heat-controlled grill or in the oven at 185 degrees for 2 to 6 hours and remove 15 minutes before serving time to let them rest. The flavor will be wonderful and the meat will fall off the bone. AND...that's great for everyone except me. I like my ribs the genuinely old-fashioned way... where you have to tear the meat from the bone with your teeth like a hungry dog. To that end, I cooked one slab completely on the grill and tossed it, uncovered, in the oven for about a half hour to reheat before serving. (in photo above)
Click HERE for Brunswick Stew Recipe using leftover bar-b-q.
My Texas daughter brought CORN SALAD...scrumptious! Here's the recipe:
  • 1 Red Onion - diced
  • 6 cups Corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 bunch Cilantro - chopped
  • 1 carton Grape or Cherry Tomatoes - cut in half
  • 1 Jalapeno - finely diced
  • Feta Cheese - crumpled
  • Juice of 2 Limes (& zest from one)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
In Butter, saute 1/2 of the Onion. Add Corn. Remove from heat and add everything else. Salt to taste. WONDERFUL!!!
We used the red & white & blue serving bowls and star-spangled dinnerware from last year...
and a daughter found these wonderful paper baskets for the children. (Don't know how or why this child is holding a white Styrofoam cup instead of a red one.)
In addition to red, white and blue decorated cupcakes, we had a cool, light and fluffy concoction made with lemon Jello and whipped cream, topped with strawberries and blueberries...
homemade ice cream sandwiches were made with big oatmeal cookies and rolled in red, white & blue sprinkles. And they would have photographed much better had I not spent time trying to find my camera. They really are cute, tasty and easy...just remember to make them ahead of time and freeze several hours before serving.
In the middle of a terrible drought, we didn't dare bring out any fireworks but the children were more than happy with glow sticks and sparklers after potato sack races and 3-legged races and relay races and laughter and giggles that still ring in my ears.

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