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Fire Up the Grill!
Set the Table and the Mood
for Summer Outdoor Entertaining

The grill is on, the stars are out and entertaining is about to move outdoors. This summer, make your outdoor space an extension of your living room by creating an inviting setting to entertain family and friends.

David Sherman, an interior design instructor with The Art Institute of California -- San Francisco, suggests that for a successful party, guests should be comfortable, “inside and outdoors.”

Sherman says by using various types of lighting, you can create moods, as well as keep your guests moving freely -- and safely -- around the party. When Sherman entertains, he likes to suspend paper and metal accordion lanterns from trees or porch eaves, use old lanterns from flea markets or antique stores to hold candles, and light large citronella torches that can be stuck in the ground for light and also repel bugs

He also recommends putting a votive tree in the ground, in a pot, or in the hole of an umbrella table to create an outdoor chandelier of lights. Glass or mosaic hurricane lamps add a soft glow, says Sherman, and also protect candles from the wind.

ideas for backyard party lights
Light up the night with tiki torches, an eye-catching firepit, or elegant votives.

“Outdoor lighting is all about fire,” says Dan Noyes, Interior Design Department chair at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. “With the advent of the many tiki torch designs out there, one can readily and inexpensively create the outdoor room with a perimeter of fire. The upside is not only a definition of space but a controlled bug-less zone if one uses citronella in the torches. Fire pits are another great way to add ambient light while creating a focal point to gather around." he says.

Now that the lighting is set, what about the food? First, start with a very clean grill says William Niemer, chef director, also from The Art Institutes International Minnesota. “Make sure you remove all of the cooked on meat and carbon. The importance of this is two-fold; a clean grill will help to make sure none of your food sticks to the grill and you can make those great grill marks. Second, you don't want any off flavors from the carbon build-up on the grill rack,” says Chef Niemer.

beer on ice
Tin washtubs make great
containers for beer & drinks.

When you cook a large piece of meat, says the chef, use an indirect cooking method in which you place the coals on either side of the grill. Place the meat in the center of the grill, not directly over the coals. This will provide even cooking and no burning meat.

Entertaining experts recommend setting up food and drink stations in two distinct areas. That way, guests will move around more and not congregate next to one or the other in a big group. Tin washtubs, available at most home centers, make great containers for beer and soft drinks.

Offer a selection of white or red wine, or consider serving a white or red sangria to make use of delicious summer fruits. If you decide to serve mix drinks, keep it simple by selecting one or two “specialty” drinks, like martinis or margaritas.

Remember when you entertain guests, don't try out fancy new recipes that keep you in the kitchen -- or at the grill -- for hours. Keep it easy and casual, and serve your friends and family what you like to eat, because chances are, they'll enjoy it as well.

also see Grilled Salmon on a Bed of Roasted Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar Sauce, Recipes from Chef Bill Niemer, The Art Institutes International Minnesota

Source: ARA Content

also see in Wine -> Zinfandel & Barbecue

More about summer entertaining around the Web:

HGTV - Outdoor Entertaining - Summer Party Planning Tips & Ideas

30 Tips for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

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