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The Idiot’s Guide To The Perfectly Easy BBQ

The Idiot’s Guide To The Perfectly Easy BBQ

You’ve got the paper plates, cups, just the right amount of snacks to go around and the beer is ice cold — you’re good to go for your BBQ, right? Wrong. While putting together a cook out might seem like the world’s easiest party, chances are you’re getting a few elements dreadfully wrong. From sending your guests home with a lovely parting gift of food poisoning to nasty flare-ups, cook outs are riddled with pitfalls. However, don’t haul off and cancel that party yet. Lifehack is here to guide you through the most common mistakes so you come out more “Kiss The Cook” than “Diss The Cook.”

The Preparation

dirty old grill

    The first thing you’re going to need to do is to clean that grill. After all, nobody wants to eat your charred chicken remnants from last year’s wing disaster. Also, a clean grill means that your food is less likely to stick, thus rocketing you from amateur status in the eyes of your guests. Take off the grill and scrub with warm, soapy water, preferably using either a wire brush or a heavy-duty scouring pad. This will take some elbow grease, and you will once again vow that next year you’ll clean this thing before sticking it in the garage. Scrape out any old charcoal and give the whole thing a good, soapy wipe-down, followed by a good rinse. You’re preparing food on this thing, after all, so cleanliness really is next to godliness. Gas grills need less of the treatment, but ensure everything is cleaned and wiped down, particularly the grill portion. Portable grills? Well, you’re already home free from this portion of the exercise.

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    When it comes to lighting that sucker up, there are a bunch of different methods you can try, from your basic charcoal lighting, to using a charcoal chimney, all the way to your high-end gas grill methods. In this, YouTube is your friend. Be sure you get your grill going at least 30–60 minutes before you want to start cooking so you’re able to get a nice even temperature, and also create a “cooler” and “hotter” side, depending on what you want to grill.

    Some Important Gear

    BBQ tools

      Get yourself ready for the big day with some basic utensils:

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      • A pair of tongs
      • A spatula
      • Oven and/or BBQ gloves (that thing is hot)
      • A water mister (for flare ups)
      • A meat thermometer (plus wipes to clean it off between readings)
      • A fire extinguisher (it never hurts to be prepared)
      • A clean plate for cooked food

      You may also want to have a handy copy of this meat temperatures chart around, just as a cheat sheet.

      Meat-temperature-chart-copy

        The Burgers

        While there are all sorts of things you can throw on a grill, in order to keep your party easy, select just a few items to serve. A cook out, at its most basic, can have chicken, something for the veggies and a bunch of salads, but it’s just not the same without a tasty burger. Nearly everybody has that perfect blend of seasonings and spices for their burgers, but it’s not so much the seasonings as the formation that can ruin a perfectly good hunk of beef. In fact, by digging through that meat and rubbing in those seasonings, you can actually be over-mixing your meat, causing “hockey-puck syndrome.” Be gentle with it, and add salt and pepper to the outside of your burger, and don’t forget that all-important thumb print. One last thing, don’t think it makes you look like a stud to press down on the burger with your spatula while it’s cooking so you can hear that sizzle. You’re actually just drying the thing out, and it really does look like amateur hour. The video above is sure to make you look like the Grill God that you’ve surely set out to be.

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        The Chicken

        Though it may seem like burger season, it’s hard to resist a perfectly grilled piece of chicken straight off the barbecue. For the best bang for your clucking buck, ditch the pricey chicken breast and instead head for the thigh or leg action, as both can stand up to the aggressive heat of the grill. They’re also right at home with a good marinade that you can start the night before, ramping up the flavor and eliciting gasps of wonderment from your awed guests. It’s important to be careful with your chicken though, as it’s sadly one of the foods that’s most likely to give you food poisoning if you fail to get the temperature right. The video above gives you all the skinny on how to cook every cut of chicken to perfection. However, another method you should definitely try at least once in your life is the legendary Beer Can Chicken. Moist, tender and impressive as anything, it’s an easy win if you’re looking to spend less time slaving over the stove and more time chilling with your friends.

        The Veggies

        Grilled vegetables aren’t just for those non-meat eaters in your life. Vegetables were practically made for the grill! Try using a giant, meaty portobello mushroom burger in place of (or even on top of) your regular beef patty. Vegetarian kebabs are also excellent as both a main or a side dish. One of the favorites in America’s corn belt of the Midwest is grilled corn. In fact, it’s difficult to even go to a festival where this isn’t being served up, or to walk through a Mexican neighborhood where someone isn’t selling elotes. The video clip above will show you just how easy it is to whip up a batch of grilled corn for your pals at your next BBQ. Bonus: corn is cheap in the late summer, thus keeping your party costs down.

        The Sides and Stuff

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          A BBQ or cook out just isn’t the same unless you’ve got the extra goods to back it up. Think of toppings, sides and salads to round out the meal. Popular items to have for toppings would include:

          • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, salsa, mayo, hot sauce)
          • Fresh cut veggies (tomatoes, onions, lettuce)
          • Pickles
          • Cheese

          When it comes to salads, you can go traditional or branch out into the exotic. One great way to make sure you have a range of salads is to invite everyone who’s coming to bring a side dish or salad, meaning you’ll end up with a cornucopia of delights depending on everyone’s background. There are also some excellent summer BBQ salad ideas you can view here. Be sure to also offer some chips and pretzels for people to munch on before the main event.

          Once you’ve mastered these BBQ basics, you’ll be able to branch out into seafood, steaks and other styles and marinades. You’re only limited to your imagination and budget, so get out there and get grilling this summer. You’re sure to be a scorcher!

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

          1. Understand Yourself Better

          Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

          Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

          2. Keep Track of Small Changes

          I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

          Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

          3. Become Aware of What Matters

          As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

          You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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          4. Boost Creativity

          The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

          When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

          You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

          5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

          A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

          Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

          6. Process Life Experiences

          When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

          Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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          7. Stress Relief

          In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

          Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

          8. Provide Direction

          Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

          One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

          9. Solve Problems

          Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

          Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

          When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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          10. Find Relief From Fighting

          Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

          Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

          11. Find Meaning in Life

          Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

          12. Allow Yourself to Focus

          Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

          13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

          When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

          14. Let the Past Go

          I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

          15. Allow Freedom

          Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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          16. Enhance Your Career

          Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

          Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

          17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

          All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

          18. Catalog Your Life for Others

          No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

          We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

          Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

          Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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