Make tailgating easy this football season
August 31, 2015
Yes, football fans, another season is growing close. If you’re a real fanatic, you’re anticipating every aspect of the game – especially tailgating. I can’t lie, I’m not the biggest pig-skin fan, BUT I have been submerged into the culture at the hands of my friends and family. And tailgating is a blast no matter how committed of a fan you are.
There are so many little things you need for that top-shelf tailgating experience, but remembering them all can be a challenge. That’s why I recommend creating your very own tailgate survival kit. Grab all your goods and leave them in one, easy to grab place.
After multiple attempts at creating the best tailgating survival kit, I can say with confidence that I finally found the best one. A tool box. They’re super easy to organize, heavy duty and non-destructive, easy to transport and no man is ashamed to be seen with one. I found this Portable Tool Box and it works great. As for what to pack, here are a few basics:
- grill accessories (tongs, grill brush, spatula)
- aluminum foil, saran wrap
- first aid (band aids and ant-acids for all that pre-game food)
- matches or a lighter
- salt and pepper shakers, spices and shelf-stable condiments
- can/bottle opener
- paper products (paper towel, plates and toilet paper if you’re unsure about bathrooms)
- sunscreen and bug spray
- hand sanitizer
- duct tape
- jumper cables
One essential worth mentioning is a meat thermometer. This dual meat and oven one is pretty inexpensive coming in at thirteen bucks and the benefits of it are worth every cent. The last thing you want is your gang consuming under cooked meat before heading in to the stadium. Protect your stomachs and keep your head in the game.
Garbage bags are a huge help too. You have to be prepared that you may have to pack up and take home all the trash you accumulate. Plus, if you’re in Michigan like me, you’re going to want the deposit back on all those empties.
Setting the scene
Last fall, I had the chance to tag along to a University of Michigan game. While I failed to keep my attention on the ball the entire time, the tailgating there was a scene worth experiencing. If you want to compete with the pros, you must have a pop-up canopy. Whether you’re avoiding pre-game showers or scorching sun, this Pop Up Event Canopy will get the job done. Measuring in at 12 by 12 feet, it has room for you and your whole crew. The design is super simple to put up and take down so you don’t waste any of your time on set up.
Food and drinks
The important part, right? When you’re tailgating you want to make sure you have enough space for all of your goods. That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to have at least two coolers – one for drinks and one for food. To consolidate space, freeze water bottles to keep beer and food cold; when they melt, you can hydrate.
A portable cooler is a great idea for drinks. This cool red one is super easy to transport. It includes an adjustable strap for carrying and folds up when empty. I also recommend this Back Seat Cooler. It is perfect for food like hot dogs and burgers, but it also includes loads of pockets to tuck in buns and other goods.
Now you know what it takes to pull off the perfect tailgate, but be sure to plan before putting it in action. Before the event, research and find out:
- Where you can park? And how much space will you have?
- Are open flames allowed? Can you grill?
- Do you have access to running water? What about bathrooms?
- Can you have alcohol?
- Is there a time limit? How early can you start and how late can you stay?
Once you have mastered this, there is nothing left to do but to have fun. Enjoy!
And go Blue!
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Fresh peaches brighten up the season
August 24, 2015
Staying on the topic of summer produce, let’s move our attention to peaches. These juicy, sweet hand-fruits are one of my personal favorites. And just like sweet corn that we mentioned last week, there are a variety of ways to enjoy them.
How to pick a peach
Just like any piece of fruit you purchase at the grocery store, peaches have simple signals to look for to find the best.
The first thing to consider is where your fruit is coming from. The less distance it has to travel from the farm to you, the better. So consider checking out your local farmers markets. This is important because in order for a piece of fruit to travel a long distance, farmers typically pick it earlier so it is harder and therefore less likely to suffer damage or spoiling during transit. Local produce doesn’t have to stand up to long travel, so farmers can wait longer before harvesting, ensuring fruit is only picked when ripe. Plus if it doesn’t have to travel far, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated; refrigerating fruit, especially peaches, before it is ripe changes the fruit completely. For example, peaches become mealy and will not ripen properly to become the juicy, sweet fruit that we love.
If you can, taste your peaches before purchasing. If the store or market you are at offers samples, take them up on it. This way you can know for sure that the fruit you are purchasing is ripe and flavorful to your desire.
If you cannot taste, look for color and texture. Peaches should be red around the stem; this means they will continue to ripen properly and will be juicy. Peaches that are yellow or even green around the stem were picked too early. You can also squeeze a peach to see if it is ripe. Gently squeeze the neck – where the stem is – of a peach. It should be soft, but not too soft; look for a little give at your touch.
Once you have your sweet treats home, you want to store them properly. Peaches should be stored at room temperature in a fruit basket that allows for proper air circulation. Baskets are best because they allow the air to flow around the fruit – this prevents over-ripening and spoiling.
Once peaches are ripe, they can be placed in the fridge if you cannot use them right away. Watch for wrinkles though – that means they are drying out.
You can also can your peaches to use throughout the rest of the year. Canning is a detail orientated process, but it can be easily mastered by anyone. You can find a detailed list of this process on our Pinterest.
If you are more a “seize the day” type, you can enjoy those peaches now. A nice glass pie pan makes for the perfect pie every time. I’m a fool for homemade pie – and it doesn’t get much easier than this:
- Slow Cooker Peach Pie Filing
- 8 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (or chopped)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup brandy, optional
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cut up peaches and place them in a large mixing bowl. Mix peaches with sugar, brown sugar, brandy, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour your mixture into the slow cooker and top it off with butter. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours on low, stirring half way through. Peaches should be tender and the sauce should thicken. Enjoy it alone warm with ice cream or allow it to cool and bake it in a pie.
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Summer ends on a sweet note with fresh corn
August 17, 2015
I grew up in the southern thumb if Michigan. My neighborhood didn’t have sidewalks and corner stores – we experienced budding childhood in between cornfields and cow farms. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to drive around at night and steal ears of corn, fresh and ripe from the towering stalks.
The summer treat is no stranger to me and while my favorite way to enjoy it remains a simple boil in some sugar water, there are many new ways I incorporate the staple in my diet today.
For the basics, I must have some quality cob holders. These rubber handles with strong stainless steel prongs make it super simple to hold hot corn fresh from the pot. These heat-resistant holders from OXO are non-slip and come in a set of eight – enough for a family of four.
If oven roasting is your style, a silicone brush is a must. Simply place cobs on a baking sheet, brush with melted butter, season liberally and bake until tender with golden brown spots. This silicone brush is heat resistant and holds onto whatever sauce or baste you are using. The silicone bristles remove for easy cleaning and the rosewood handle is easy to hold.
For something a little different, consider fire roasted corn salsa. It sounds complicated, but this multi-use dish is as easy as it gets. For this project there are two must-haves that I recommend: a corn peeler and a strawberry huller. The peeler makes sense; roast the corn and then easily remove the kernels. But a strawberry huller? Good salsa means good tomatoes, which if you’re like me, are not the easiest to dice. Using a strawberry huller makes it real easy to remove the pit. These simple tools will make crafting your own salsa a cinch.
Find these products and more like them at Organizeit.com.
Find this recipe and more on our Pinterest page.