Oh happy day, the long weekend has arrived! As of tomorrow morning I will be visiting my family on sunny Martha’s Vineyard and commencing preparation for a great big Memorial Day cookout. Am I worried about spending the weekend in the kitchen? Not one bit. I’ll make a lot of the food ahead of time while my daughter naps or after she has gone to bed. By Monday I’ll have a few salads, desserts and drinks ready to go so I can enjoy the day without fretting about the food. Having thrown quite a few Memorial Day picnics over the years, here are my tips for making this fun family holiday a big success:
1. Celebrating: Memorial Day was started as a day to remember those who have died in service to our nation. Many towns and cities pay their respects with a parade or carnival. When attending these with small children remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and easy snacks like graham crackers or granola bars that won’t melt in the heat.
2. Grilling: I find it easiest to have everything on the menu set out and ready to serve before grilling any meat or vegetables. This way I can bring the freshly grilled food right to the table and serve it piping hot. Remember, the most important rule in grilling is never leave a grill unattended, especially with small children around.
3. Chilling: Drinks chill fastest in an ice-bucket. This goes for wine, beer and anything in cans or glass bottles. About 2 hours before guests arrive set up a cooler or plastic tub filled 3/4 full of ice. Then, bury the wine, beer and drinks in it. This will ensure that everything is cold by the time the picnic gets started. Sippy cups and juice boxes can be chilled this way, too!
4. Melting: Don’t let the icing melt! Gooey or frozen desserts like iced cakes or brownies, ice-cream and lemon bars do not do well left in the sun for long periods of time. Let the guests get started on their meal before presenting any kind of dessert tray. Most desserts will keep well in the fridge or a cool dry pantry before you are ready to serve them.
5. Serving: Plastic is the best! Unless you are serving a formal seated indoor meal, Memorial Day is a great time to break out your fanciest (bpa-free) plastic wear. When kids are around the last thing you want is to worry about broken glass in the lawn or rug. Furthermore, it will make clean-up much easier for you.
Have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend!