‘Tis the season for outdoor cooking! And there’s something so special about food cooked on an open grill, isn’t there? It’s not only a sign that summer is here, but also an invitation to finally indulge in those long, hot days capped off with dinner on the grill and the lingering summer nights we’ve been craving all year long.
But before you bust out the burgers and buns, here’s a helpful checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need to get your grill on.
Essential Grilling Tools Checklist
There are two main types of grills to choose from: those fueled by charcoal and those fueled by gas. Purists will say that charcoal is the way to go for authentic-tasting grilled meals, but propane can definitely be more convenient, as long as you’re stationary. If grilling on the go is what you’re after, then go for a charcoal grill.
Now that the weather has apologized for what it did to us last winter, it’s time to expand our living spaces outside. After all, the sun is shining, and the great outdoors are calling!
Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a chic downtown patio, there are several things you can do prep your backyard and patio for the summer.
Here are 7 tips to get you started!
1. Clean Surfaces
No matter what else you do to make your outdoor living space look nice, nothing will help if everything is dirty.
First, give all of the floor surfaces a good sweep. Once that’s done, it’s time to get in there and deep clean. 30-Seconds Outdoor Cleaner is great for cleaning large outdoor spaces, and it’s safe to use on lawns, plants, and fabrics. You can even attach the spray bottle right to a hose and douse all of the concrete, wood, siding, patio furniture, flower pots, and garden boxes if need be. Then just scrub with a brush and rinse.
Voilà! No more winter blahs.
2. Get Your Lawn Ready
Sprucing up the yard is more than just about mowing the grass – take your lawn to the next level with some extra TLC.
Aerate: Aeration helps the grass to breathe and also helps the water and nutrients reach the root system. You should aerate your lawn every 1 to 3 years, but high-traffic areas may require more attention. Here are some more aeration tips.
Rake: Debris that has accumulated over the winter can block sunlight and prevent water from reaching deep down to the roots of the grass.
Maintain: After checking your lawnmower for sharp blades, appropriate oil level, and properly inflated tires, mow the grass regularly, about once a week. Keep grass cut to a height of about 5 cm, except in the hottest part of the summer, when you should let it grow about 1 cm longer.
Water: Watering your lawn slowly allows water to get all the way down to the roots and avoids runoff, so choose a sprinkler that moves in smooth, sweeping motions. Don’t forget to check the water restrictions in your area, and water your yard at night or in the morning before the sun hits it so that the water doesn’t evaporate before it gets into the soil.
3. Prune Trees, Shrubs, and Potted Plants
Pruning dead and excess growth off trees, shrubs, or plants helps the plants grow, and gets rid of harmful insects and rot. Plus, it just looks nicer.
Make sure to also remove any branches hanging over driveways, sidewalks, or paths (these can be a major problem for anyone who has mobility limitations).
Choose a sunny corner of your yard or patio for a new flower bed, planter box, pot arrangement, or even a few containers for vegetables. Ask at the garden centre which varieties grow best in your region, then select your favourite variety of seasonals and perennials. It’s easier than you think!
Just remember to mind your watering — flowers don’t require as much moisture as vegetables.
If you’re short on space, check out this tutorial to make your own (adorable) shoe organizer herb garden! It works great even on a tiny outdoor balcony and you’ll have fresh, delicious herbs well into the fall.
5. Control Pests
Check your flowers, shrubs, and trees for any creepy crawlies. Remove any larger critters by hand or with a blast of the hose, and use natural pesticide for the rest. Not sure what works best? Here’s a handy guide to garden pests.
If you have some six-legged visitors in your yard that prefer to annoy people instead of plants, stock up on wasp, mosquito, or ant control products. While we share the outdoors with nature’s creatures, we don’t necessarily want any uninvited guests at our next backyard BBQ.
6. Ready, Set, Grill!
Speaking of BBQs, prepping yours is an essential part of preparing your yard for summer.
Luckily, modern grills are easy to clean. Turn your grill on for 10-15 minutes, then allow it to cool for a while before cleaning it with a heat-safe tool. (Wire brushes can be dangerous, so here are some alternative grill cleaning ideas.) And don’t forget to fill up your propane tank — nothing is worse than preparing delicious homemade burgers only to find out there’s not enough fuel to cook them.
If you’ve got the room, consider adding an entire dining set. If you have a smaller space, a bistro-sized table and chairs can make even the smallest patios fashionable and a joy to be on! You’ll be surprised how much time you and your family spend out there. Don’t forget to add a shady umbrella for the hot days, and some inviting mood lighting or a home fire-pit to really enjoy your outdoor experience well into the warm, summer evenings.
If your backyard or patio is in need of some upgrades, London Drugs has everything you need to improve and beautify your outdoor space. Check out our Outdoor Living Guide or just stop by and talk to one of our experts about your unique needs. We’d love to see you!
Summer is in full swing, and that means your backyard should be ground zero for the majority of your meals for the next few months. Whether it’s the smoky, delicious flavour barbecue provides or just the act of cooking al fresco, BBQing is one of the pleasures of summer. Here are eight tips to help make you the master of the grill.
Brining and injecting aren’t cheating
Master grillers might look down their noses on these methods, but when you’re barbecuing at home, you’re not in a competition. You’re only cheating yourself if you’re not using all the tools at your disposal that will help you get the most flavour out of your meat. Brining (letting the meat soak in salted water for up to 24 hours) and injecting (where you use a syringe to inject flavourful liquids into the meat) helps to ensure that the meat will be moist and tasty. There’s nothing worse than a dry piece of BBQ, so rigging the game for a favourable outcome is just smart cooking.
Smoke it if you’ve got it
If you only have a gas-powered barbecue, it’s perfectly fine – you’ll get effective heat distribution with gas. But if you do have access to charcoal it will give your meat a distinctive and delicious flavour that you just won’t find with gas.
Searing is a waste of time
Just like the idea that you can see the Great Wall of China from space, the idea that searing meat will hold in moisture is a myth. Instead, it’s more likely that searing will cause the fibres of the meat to tighten, which in turn means you’ll lose moisture. The crusty surface that’s formed by searing isn’t waterproof, and therefore won’t hold in any fluids.
Don’t poke your meat
While you might be tempted to use that impressive looking BBQ fork, don’t. If you puncture the meat, you’re letting valuable juices leak out. Instead, use the less cool but far more effective pair of tongs when you need to flip things.
Cook it low and slow
If you know you’re going to be using the grill, plan ahead. If you’re not rushed you will have the ability to cook the meat at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. The higher the temperatures, the more the fibres of the meat contract, squeezing out moisture and taking away from the flavour of the cut. But if you’re going to grill at low temperatures, make sure you give the meat enough time to cook so that it doesn’t come out raw.
Patience is a virtue
When you’re done grilling, take a few minutes and wait before you cut your meat. We know – it’s tough to sit there salivating when a perfectly cooked piece of steak is sitting right in front of you, but trust that the wait will be worth it. By holding off, you’ll effectively retain a lot of those precious juices you’ve been cultivating from the very beginning. If you cut into the meat right away, those juices will just spill out onto the plate, where they can’t be enjoyed.
If you’re looking for the quickest way to rob your meat of flavour, by all means, boil it before putting it on the BBQ. By boiling, you’re losing all of the feat and flavour that provides taste. Even if you’re pressed for time, don’t take this shortcut.
With veggies, speed is key
If you’re cooking veggies on the grill, speed is your friend. Slice your veggies into thin strips and then char along the bars. You don’t have cook them for long to achieve that BBQ appearance and flavour.
If you want to up your BBQ game this summer, London Drugs has everything you need to become a master griller, including barbecues, camp stoves, tools, fuel, and accessories.
The SodaStream isn’t technically a new product – the company was founded in 1903 and their home soda makers became popular in the 1970s and 80s. SodaStream products have made a big comeback in recent years, mostly due to consumers’ focus on health and environmental impact.
People who want to drink more water for better health swear that the SodaStream makes the task of drinking water much more exciting. Making your own sparking water at home can also save money and you’ll keep plastic bottles out of the waste cycle.
Multi-cooker pots burst onto the kitchen gadget scene a couple of years ago and took the domestic world by storm. It seemed like you couldn’t call yourself a proper home chef without owning one of these, and it’s easy to see why. The Express Crock Multi-Cooker can cook up to 70% faster than traditional methods, or can be set to slow cook all day. This little gem is a master at homemade chili, stew, sauces, poultry (home-made hot wings? Yes please!), steamed fish, rice, soup, dessert, bread, and even yogurt. It’s so fast and versatile, it might even leave your stove and oven feeling left out.
If you’re not convinced that your counter needs an Express Crock Multi-Cooker on it, Crock-Pot has a whole library of delicious recipes for you to check out right here.
This is a serious piece of kitchen equipment, and Vitamix owners swear that it has changed their lives. Vitamix doesn’t make an “every-once-in-a-while margarita mixer” that’s stored away nine months out of the year; they make a use-it-every-day, can’t-live-without-it, commercial-grade blender.
Vitamix machines have all the power you need to pulverize ingredients, releasing flavours and marrying them together to create better-tasting blends. Eating healthy can be a challenge sometimes, so taste makes a big difference. With precise settings that can chop, grind, puree, or juice to perfection, you’ll be making your own delicious salsa, soup, nut butter, sorbet, sauces, and of course the most perfectly smooth smoothie you’ll ever taste in your life.
A Vitamix blender isn’t cheap, but knowing that it’s a quality piece of a equipment that will get used every day and last a lifetime (many people have passed theirs on to their kids and grandkids!) makes it completely worth it.
Another big healthy eating trend that’s taken the cooking world by storm is spiralized veggies. In an effort to replace the not-so-healthy pasta dishes, people have discovered this tasty, curly alternative. Pasta lovers can enjoy all the flavour, taste, and texture of their favourite dishes every day with a fraction of the carbs and calories. The catch is that creating the noodle-y spirals can be difficult with traditional kitchen tools, so products like the Vegetti can speed things up.
Food dehydrating is a healthy and cost-effective way to preserve meat, fruit, veggies and other foods. Using low heat and air, dehydrating reduces the overall amount of water found in food. Once the water is removed, the food is resistant to bacteria and doesn’t spoil as quickly as it normally would. The bonus of food that has been properly dehydrated is that it retains most of its original nutritional value. After food is cooked, it starts to lose the overall nutrition potential. A food dehydrator allows you to retain all of those nutrients and vitamins in your food, getting the benefits of a raw food diet but without the hassle of continuously buying raw food. It’s perfect for making healthy snacks for the whole family, saving you money, calories, and waste.
The Weston Food Dehydrator has a compact, lightweight design that can fit in even a small kitchen, and is easy to clean. Apple chips, here we come!
This is the product that has made professional meat smokers very nervous. Nothing can beat the mouthwatering goodness of food cooked in a real smoker, and The Char-Broil® Connected Electric Smoker & Roaster has created a whole new generation of backyard barbecue masters.
This reliable smoker and roaster will impress your friends with tasty mouth watering burgers, charred veggies, juicy steaks and smoky chicken. This backyard must-have plugs into any common 120V power outlet and comes built with 15 pre-set temperature levels for all your cooking. Here’s the kicker – it has its very own smartphone app! You can virtually monitor your food’s temperature and general cooking information in real time and will let you multi-task in various locations without having to constantly go check on the food in your smoker. You won’t miss a minute of the big game while making the most mouth-watering ribs, steak, burgers, chicken, or veggies.
Did we miss a new, trendy kitchen product you can’t live without? Post it in the comments!