Humans are social creatures. Each one of us is an individual with our own particular preferences and peculiarities, but I believe for all our differences, we share far more similarities. One of these similarities is that we enjoy being around other people. So we look forward to the occasions that offer opportunities for us to gather together with our family, friends, and neighbors.
Many of these opportunities come during holidays, such as Labor Day. This is one of those days that many people traditionally have off from work. Just type into your favorite search engine the words ‘labor day events’ and you will likely find lists of activities planned for your part of the country (if you live in the U. S. anyway). For instance, I live in Houston, Texas and I found sites for events in Houston as well as in other parts of Texas.
For Labor Day this year at our home we have invited family and friends over for a cookout. For the food, here are our plans so far:
Since it has been so hot and dry this season in our part of the country, our plans are for cooking outside and to provide plenty of refreshing foods. You need to have something for your guests to munch on until everyone arrives and the meal is ready, so I recommend having them prepared and ready before people start to arrive. The starters for this party will include chips, dips, with cold drinks such as beer for the adults and lemonade.
One of my favorite dips is Onion Dip, and here is my recipe:
1 T Instant Beef Bouillon
2 T Minced onions
¼ t Garlic powder
½ t Chives, dried
½ t Parsley, dried
¼ t Onion, powdered
1 c Sour cream
Combine ingredients and let sit in refrigerator for one hour before serving.
This, along with fresh homemade salsa, will be served with chips.
For lemonade I make it using simple syrup, lemon juice and water. I make simple syrup ahead of time by heating 1 part water and 1 part sugar until the sugar completely dissolves. (2 cups sugar plus 2 cups water heated yields 3 cups simple syrup.) This I keep in the refrigerator until need. Then to make lemonade I add 2 parts simple syrup to 2 parts lemon juice and 12 parts cold water (hint: 2 oz. (1/4 cup) simple syrup + 2 oz. (1/4 cup) lemon juice + 12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) water = 1 pint). Simple syrup is easy to make and use because it mixes so well with the other ingredients (much better than plain sugar). Plus it can be used for making Mint Juleps.
For the meal I am planning on smoking a brisket. This year I will be using a dry rub and mop sauce and cooking the brisket in a smoker I have used for years, primarily for smoking turkey for our family’s Thanksgiving meal. I will be trying a method I recently found at a site called The Smoker King which advertises itself as a site for ‘BBQing Recipes and Techniques, Texas Style!!’ At this site are instructions for preparing the brisket (between the rub and smoking, this will be a 24+ hour commitment) with recipes for the rub and mop sauce. Along with the brisket we will be serving potato salad and BBQ beans.
For dessert we will be enjoying Blue Bell Ice Cream (this is a Texas brand, which we think is the best anywhere, but other regions of the country may think otherwise) sundaes. I am always on the lookout for good discounts on items I can reasonably add to my pantry to have on hand for special occasions. For the sundaes I have M&Ms and Heath Bars (that I either got on sale or had a coupon for) hidden away that will be among the options for toppings. Also will be freshly whipped cream.
The secret to successful whipped cream is to start with everything cold. This helps the stiffening of the milkfat thus enabling the incorporation of air. Before whipping I put everything in the freezer to chill: bowl, beater, and even the cream itself (be careful not to let the cream freeze). Here is my recipe for whipped topping:
1 c Heavy cream
2 T Ice, finely crushed or shaved
2 T sugar
Place bowl and beaters in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill well. Place the cream in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl. Add the ice to the cream and whip to soft peaks.
Gently fold in the sugar and whip until the cream forms firm peaks.
Do not over whip, or you will have butter.
Keeping everything cold is essential to keep the fat droplets firm around the air bubbles to produce firm whipped topping.
Keep covered in the refrigerator. Fats are great holders and carriers of flavor and will easily pick up tastes and odors from other items in the refrigerator.
Check back with us and I will let you know how everything went for our party. We at Lukewarm Legumes would love to hear about your party plans for Labor Day. Please let us know about it either on our website, Facebook or through Twitter and remember to ‘Like’ us and follow us as well. Links to our Facebook and Twitter accounts can be found on our website at www.lukewarmlegumes.com.