Celebrate! & A Hint of Asia Barbecue

fireworks_101Hip hip hooray! Unfurl the flag. Throw a watermelon on ice and some chicken on the grill. It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate! Do you have big plans for the holiday weekend or are you still at loose ends? There is still a day or two to figure it all out. Need some help; here are few thoughts:

Hit the road. There’s never been a better time. Gas prices are down about a buck a gallon from last year. Add an improving economy and AAA estimates that almost 42 million Americans will hit the road over the long holiday weekend. What about you? I vote for staying put and letting the family come to me. What could be better than a weekend in New Hampshire? The days are warm, the nights cool and the locals are even cooler still.

Head to the beach. As a kid, I spent most Fourths on the Cape or at the lake. Somehow, water, sand and Independence Day all go together. Pack your swimsuit, towel and the latest best seller. Bring plenty of sunscreen and a picnic and spend the day … better yet, stash a flashlight in your beach bag and stay until well after the sun has set and the moon has risen.

Turn your bike ride into a parade. From tiny villages to big cities, there will be parades throughout the land. Whether there is a parade in your town or not, you can stage your very own cavalcade of festive bikes. It’s easy. All you need is a few old playing cards and a couple of clothes pins. Attach the cards to your wheel spokes and clackity-clack your way through the neighborhood. While not strictly mandatory, streamers on the handlebars are a nice addition.

Get competitive. What’s your family’s favorite sport? Tennis, golf or sand castles? Whatever it is, organize a round-robin, tournament or contest. Unlike Thanksgiving, Independence Day get-togethers are not fraught with a history of melodrama and rivalry. That’s easy to fix. More than fireworks will fly if you add a little healthy, or not-so healthy, competition to the mix. Never a dull moment.

Transform your backyard. Can’t get to the beach? Don’t pout. Invite the neighborhood over for fun, food and games. Break out the croquet set and volleyball net. Fire up the grill and fill the cooler with ice. Don’t let the setting sun put an end to the fun; those little white lights are not just for Christmas. String them in the trees or the porch rafters and turn your backyard into a magical garden.

Dress the part. No matter where you spend the Fourth, at home or away, get your red, white and blue on. No need to get all fancy; bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts and sneakers are just fine. Stay with the patriotic theme when it comes to your picnic or cookout. Decorate with lots of little flags and pots filled with red geraniums, white daisies and blue petunias. By the way, colorful red, white and blue bandannas will make cheap and cheerful napkins for your party.

Live free and let the fireworks fly. As kids, New Hampshire summers were exciting for many reasons. For the boys, the bottle rockets and cherry bombs were chief among them. Although these childhood favorites are now banned, the Granite State has a long list of incendiary devices available for sale for your Independence Day festivities. Just make sure you read the safety instructions and have a fire extinguisher handy. Sure, the firefighters and EMTs are great people but you really don’t want to set the house on fire or spend the evening in the emergency room. On second thought, maybe you should skip the do-it-yourself solution and head to a public display!

Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day and bon appétit!

A Hint of Asia Barbecue – Marinade & Sauce for Chicken (or Pork)
A little spicy, a little sweet – what more could you ask for in a barbecue. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 onion, roughly choppedGrilling_Chicken_01
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or sambal oelek or your favorite chili paste
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
About 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts

Make the marinade: put the onion, garlic, ginger and thyme in a small food processor or blender, add the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, honey and sriracha and pulse until smooth. Add the hoisin and ketchup and process until smooth and well combined. Makes about 2 cups marinade.

Marinate the chicken: put the chicken in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, add enough marinade to generously coat, cover and, turning a few times, refrigerate for several hours.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve.

Or, if you prefer a barbecue sauce to a marinade …

Make the sauce: lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion and thyme and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, honey, sriracha, hoisin and ketchup, bring to a simmer and, stirring a few times, continue simmering on very low for about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, add the sesame oil and process in the blender for a smooth sauce. Makes about 2 cups sauce.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Generously coat the chicken with sauce and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve with more sauce.

Can’t decide which method? I like to marinate the chicken but you can always combine the two for extra flavor. Whip up a batch of marinade and a batch of sauce. Marinate and grill the chicken and serve it with a spoonful or two of sauce. The marinade and sauce are also great with pork.

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One Year Ago – Potato Salad Niçoise
Two Years Ago – Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
Three Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Four Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Five Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Six Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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