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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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          How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

          How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

          Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

          But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

          Sight – Visual Stimulation

          The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

          1. Maximize your exposure to light.

          Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

          Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

          2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

          Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

          Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

          Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

          3. Take note of your environment.

          Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

          By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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          Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

          What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

          4. Engage in conversation.

          Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

          Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

          Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

          Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

          5. Listen to upbeat music.

          Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

          Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

          Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

          If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

          6. Work your nose.

          Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

          If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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          Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

          Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

          If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

          7. Have a good breakfast.

          Start off with the most important meal of the day.

          Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

          Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

          Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

          20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

          8. Drink lots of water.

          Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

          So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

          How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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          Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

          3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

          9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

          Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

          Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

          Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

          25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

          Touch – Tactile Stimulation

          Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

          10. Splash cold water on your face.

          Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

          This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

          5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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          11. Use acupressure.

          Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

          Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

          12. Get moving.

          Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

          And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

          You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

          Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

          Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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