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11 BBQ Hacks for Your Best Ever Barbecue

11 BBQ Hacks for Your Best Ever Barbecue


    Ah…the smell of burning wood and roasting meat, wonderful primal pleasures and the sign that summer is here.

    Barbecue season is well underway, and there’s no time like the present to deliver some tips to make your barbecues the most successful in the neighborhood. Seven years ago I married my South African husband. I never realized that one of the many benefits of marrying him would be learning how to organize a barbecue like a pro.

    Here are 11 BBQ hacks to help you make this year’s barbecues the best ever.

    Planning

    Now you may say that planning takes the fun out of what should be a spontaneous event, but if you don’t have the basics ready to go you will have put out the fire long before it was even lit.

    1. Fuel

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    Make sure you have the fuel you are going to use ready in advance, this means you can be more spontaneous when the mood takes you. Wood is a great fuel for a BBQ as it adds a smokey flavor to your food as well as creating ambiance. Hardwood gives you better coals. If you can’t get your hands on good barbecue hardwood, charcoal can also make just as successful a fire. Whatever fuel you use, make sure you light a big enough fire. You can always light a second fire a little later and use the second fire to feed the first one.

    2. Marinating

    All meat tastes better when marinated. This is where the advance planning can come in handy. If you plan and marinate the night before the meat will be more tender and tastier, leaving less up to your cooking skills on the day.

    Equipment

    Every expert needs their tools of the trade and if you want to be a master BBQ chef, you need to have your tools at the ready.

    3. BBQ tongs

    I recommend that you invest in two sets of BBQ tongs, one good pair with a good grip to turn the meat. The other pair you can use for moving hot coals into position.

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    4. Hinged Grids

    All BBQs have a grid where you place the food but if you want to reduce the amount of work required to turn multiple pieces of meat at once, a good idea is to use a hinged grid. Not only does it save you time and avoid burning the meat, it is also very good for delicate foods such as fish.

    5. Sharp Knife

    Don’t forget the essential sharp knife as it may be necessary to trim excess fat from the meat.

    Lighting the Fire

    6. Timing

    The most important aspect of lighting a fire is to make sure you do it in plenty of time. It can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hour before the fire is ready for cooking, this will depend on the type of coals you have used.

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    7. Ready for cooking

    This is one of the trickier aspects of the BBQ for me, knowing when the coals are ready to start cooking. The lesson I’ve been told is to do the following: if you have a wood fire, when the coals are red hot (with no smoke) you are ready to go. If you have a charcoal fire the coals should be grey and ashy.

    8. Controlling the Heat

    The easiest way to change the amount of heat reaching your meat or fish is to raise or lower the grid. Most BBQs will have adjustable grid heights. You can also add or remove coals if you need more (or less) heat.

    Vegetarian BBQs

    I once invited a friend to a barbecue but she was a little offended thinking I had forgotten she was a vegetarian. What she didn’t realize is that I have many vegetarians in my family — and a vegan too. Our house is accustomed to catering to many different diet requirements and preferences. Anything can be cooked on a BBQ.

    9. Vegetable Parcels

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    My favorite is wrapping mushroom and zucchini in foil with garlic, salt and pepper — yum! Anything can be put inside foil and cooked on the fire. Corn on the cob and sweet potatoes also work really well.

    10. Vegetable Pots

    Another way to cook vegetables is to put them in a cast iron pot directly on the fire. The vegetables can be cooking away while you dedicate all your time to the meat and entertaining your guests.

    11. Sandwiches

    Sandwiches on the fire? Yes! South Africans call them “Braai Broodjies” — cheese, tomato and onion — the standard edition. These can be put on the BBQ when all the food is cooked; they need to be cooked on low coals and cooked very slowly so that the cheese melts well inside. They can be eaten later on in the evening if the BBQ goes late or kept for lunch or a picnic the next day. Either way, the smokey taste on the bread is delicious.

    Final Tip

    Barbecues can be a really enjoyable way to eat — eating in the open air always seems to make the food taste better. If you live in a cold country like me, light another fire to stay warm. This will make the barbecue more enjoyable and prolong its duration before you have to run for the warmth of the indoors.

    And one BBQ hack for those of you attending a barbecue and the host happens to be a South African: do not interfere with the fire or the meat if you want to have a happy and relaxed host.

    (Photo credit: Steak on the Grill via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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