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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 March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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