Last spring my husband and I struck neighborhood gold. As first time homeowners, we quickly learned that our neighbors – neighbors to the left, down the block, across the street, and all over- were more than willing to lend a helping hand, a very appreciated hand, as well as a hose, a nail gun, and even a lift into the window when I locked myself out. I didn’t know any of them, but by the beginning of summer, we were beginning the adventure of getting to know our neighbors as family.
As a kick-off to the neighborhood kids being out of school, the welcoming of new neighbors, and the creation of new friendships, we held our first annual Creekside Barbecue Smoke Fest. Whether it be a family, or a neighborhood barbecue, living in our beautiful northland we are lucky to have all of the perfect materials at our fingertips to put together a memorable gathering. Here are some Creekside Barbecue tips to creating your own barbecue that will leave everyone cheering for seconds, refills, and looking forward to the next annual get together.
So here’s secret number one. Competition.
Not just any competition either. This one determines who can smoke the best meat. Immediately, you might envision burley mountain men with beards, dragging a fresh meat kill. But fear not! This is a talent that can be acquired by anyone. No beard required. However, I hear a beer belly is in your favor. There are two things that are deeply rooted in the genetic make-up of men, their strong desire to win and their love of cooking meat. A neighborhood barbecue is the perfect opportunity to strike up some friendly competition that leads to well-respected bragging rights. Being new we were caught off guard, but heads up Creekside, not only have we upgraded our talents from grill to smoker, but we also found the honey pot of markets, Stokke’s Meat Market. Just reading their selection on the website gets your mouth watering and your soul itching for summertime grilling season. Their selection is vast, and their staff can lead you to barbecue victory with their own recipes and tricks if you’re a newbie to the scene or looking to try something new. Strike up some competition that leads to a delicious, well-enjoyed meal.
In addition to having the finest meat selection at your barbecue, procure secret number 2, beer.
Be sure to stock up and present your guests with the richest of brews. The Northland has been gifted with phenomenal craft brew geniuses. From Fitger’s El Nino IPA and Bent Paddle’s Venture Pils pilsner lager to Lake Superior Brewing Company’s early summer brew, North Shore Wheat, you will find the perfect match to your smoked goods. Here’s a bonus tip. Nothing tops off a fabulous neighborhood barbecue better than frosted pint glasses. Stock your freezer the night before and worry about the dishes later. Trust me.
So while the adults are busy battling it out with the smokers, roasters, and grills with brew in hand, organize something for the kids to enjoy, which is secret number three to pulling together a successful barbecue. The trick with this one is to find something that takes little time to set up, maintains their attention for as long as possible and is fun for all ages. Try this one: tie-dye water wars. All you will need are some water guns and/or sponges, buckets, generic food dye, water, and a timer. Simple enough right? Here’s the game aspect: first, dye buckets of water with the food coloring and place them around the yard. Have the kids wear light colored clothing (white works best) that you don’t mind getting dirty and possibly stained. Next, hand out water guns and/or sponges and set the timer for five minute intervals. Once the timer starts, they’re free to soak each other! When time runs out, whoever has the most color on them sits out for the next round. Having music as the timer can add another level to the game, each round ends when a song ends. Disclaimer: kids will be soaked, exhausted, and tie-dyed after this one. With a few new tricks up your sleeve, you will no doubt be well-equipped to execute the perfect neighborhood barbecue. Harness your inner meat loving, beer drinking, entertaining, party planner and prepare to impress the neighbors…and maybe even yourself. Enjoy!