Relationships

Time To Pull Out That Grill: 6 Tip To Get All Your Neighbors Knocking Down Your Door

Are you planning ahead for summer grilling season? Do you want to ensure that all your neighbors feel free to drop in without an invitation? Try these six tips to bring all your neighbors to your next barbecue.

Meet and Greet

Making a connection with a neighbor can be as simple as a short conversation while you’re out with the stroller or walking the dog, or taking a meal to a new neighbor. Ideal summer covered dish meals included grilled vegetable kebabs, burgers and hot dogs. Don’t forget tasty homemade vegetable dips or salsa.

Keep Your Yard Attractive

Mow your yard regularly, sweep your sidewalk and keep outside decorations seasonal but subdued. Make it a daily chore for the kids to pick up their outdoor toys. Grill out regularly with your family. This gives you practice in trying different dishes and tells your neighbors that you enjoy entertaining and eating outside.

Get the Bugs Out of Your Yard

Bug zappers aren’t attractive when you’re trying to eat. But there are a lot of different, subtle ways to discourage mosquitoes in your yard or around your patio. Flies and mosquitoes can easily be deterred by the scent of rosemary, peppermint, basil and thyme. Simple solution, plant a herb garden around your eating area outside. And think of all the benefits, no pesky bugs, a natural solution, looks beautiful, and you will have fresh herbs to incorporate in your cooking adventures. Just be sure to leave some on the plants for the bugs.

Light Up the Night

Outside lighting doesn’t have to be expensive or even professionally installed. You can buy solar lights from your local farm supply or lawn and garden store. Use solar lights to light your walkways and mark the perimeter of your patio or the stairs up to your deck.

Anticipate Different Dietary Needs

When you’re throwing an open outdoor barbecue, it’s entirely possible that potential guests may be diabetic, vegetarian, on a gluten-free diet or on the wagon. Provide at least one dish to meet every need and be sure to have non-alcoholic beer and sparkling grape juice on hand. Don’t be afraid to grill traditional meat entrees and provide beer and wine as well. There are so many different options and different recipes you can test out. You can even save money by buying meat online in bulk and in different cuts. Then you will have it on hand for an impromptu get together. You can easily satisfy all your guests with just a few dishes.

Dropping in and Saying Goodbye

Your guests shouldn’t feel any pressure about dealing with their dirty dishes before they leave. Put out two or three garbage cans with bags so that guests can easily clean up after themselves. That way your guests don’t feel obliged to load your dishwasher and you have less to do after the party.

When your neighbors know that your summer barbecues are casual and easy-going, you won’t have to invite them. They’ll show up as soon as you put the meat and veggies on your grill.

The Second Annual Minnesota Food Truck Fair is coming up in a few months.  I can get gassy at the chassis of such vehicles as the Gastrotruck, or order something called a Bangkok burrito at the World Street Kitchen truck.

The variety, and mobility, of today’s comestibles causes me to shake my head and wait for the inevitable harp glissando, signaling the start of a nostalgic reminiscence …

The Scandinavian neighborhood where I grew up in southeast Minneapolis, during the years when Clellan Card gave us “Axel’s Tree House” and Charlie Stenvig reinvented the Keystone Kops, was not a happenin’ place when it came to food and drink. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt was used only on syttende mai, and if you really wanted to push the envelope, you put a slice of onion on your hamburger.

Otherwise, everything had to look and taste like mush — no spicy fripperies or fusion trumperies, thank you.

The idea of a truck tooling around to serve a meal was considered … was considered … well, by yumpin’ yimminy, it wasn’t considered at all!

The closest you could come in concept was the drive-in, which remained reassuringly anchored in one spot, but to which you could, in extremis, drive your car for a meal. Ordering takeout or a pizza was also about as distasteful to the neighborhood’s adult mind-set as swallowing your snoose.

Drive-ins had French fries, and as a child I could not get enough of those cholesterol hand grenades. I begged my mother to make French fries at home, but she didn’t think it a proper food for the household — it was an exotic treat best left to the trained professionals at the drive-in. Especially those crazy crinkle-cut fries she saw in the freezer at Red Owl — that was just asking for trouble. You’d probably get your lips cut off by trying to eat such things.

My fiendish child mind, little less repugnant than Professor Moriarty’s, was constantly trying to figure out ways to force my family out of the house, and into the welcoming arms of the nearest, French-fry-serving establishment. One way was to hide my mother’s cigarettes.

This had to be timed just right. If it were done too early in the day, she would just murmur a few irritable cuss words and walk down to the corner grocery store for another pack of Alpines. If too late in the day, she would have already started dinner and would not abandon it. But if it were timed correctly, she would let her nicotine craving build until it burst like a thunderclap over the head of my innocent father when he walked in the door, home from work, for something that likely had happened fifteen years earlier:

“Who was that blonde I saw you with on VE day? And DON’T say your cousin from South Dakota again!”

The tempest would soon blow over without any blows being struck or divorce papers filed, but it would be too late to start dinner. So dad magnanimously would offer to take us out to the drive-in. The nearest was over in St. Anthony, next to the Dairy Queen. It was called, if I remember correctly, the Three Circles Drive-In. Anyway, it featured a roof with a triangular wall that had three holes in it. I loved the French fries, and I dearly loved the ketchup served there in red-plastic squirty bottles.

There was something pungent, fermented, about that ketchup — probably due to the fact that the bottles were kept out in the direct sun all day and never given a thorough washing. It is my mature opinion that the stuff was turning into tomato wine. Be that as it may, I always ordered the same thing — a hot dog and French fries. The fries came in a big, greasy waxed-paper bag the size of a hat.

Now, you would think that since the Dairy Queen was right next to the drive-in, we would go there after our meal for a tasty dessert. Not so. My dad gladly sprang for the meal out, but he would be boiled in oil before he’d spend an extravagant nickel buying ice cream cones from another drive-in when we had ice cream back home in the freezer! You might as well give all your money to Henry Wallace, then drive straight to the poor farm and get it over with.

So off to home we’d go, where a lump of plain vanilla ice cream would be dumped in a bowl for each of us kids, while mom and dad proclaimed the glories of watching your pennies — and I would be wishing they’d both drop dead and leave me all those pennies so I could go back to the darn Dairy Queen and order the biggest hot fudge sundae in recorded history.

Today my parents, my old neighborhood, that old mind-set, are no more. I’ll probably blow a wad at the Food Truck Fair on pig wings, fried dill pickles, and a host of other odds and ends. Then I’ll amble over to the Ben & Jerry’s truck for a dollop of sassafras and paw-paw gelato.

It strikes me that our current milieu is one where eating at home is equated with extreme poverty or suspicious isolation. Only shut-ins and crypto-terrorists stay home to eat. The rest of the world is driving around, either looking for someplace to eat, or offering something to eat.

Our homes may grow substantial — and, strangely, we are calling them McMansions — but all we can manage to do is snack in them.

Legal Pitfalls In Food Public Relations

Public relations for any company will always be an important endeavor. However, it can also be a very tricky one to get right, as there are many guidelines and laws that dictate what can and cannot be done in the advertisement of a product. Here are some common pitfalls that companies fall into when using public relations for their food products.

Advertising to Specific Demographics

Some products can be very profitable when marketed to particular social demographics. Children are a very easy target; they are usually naïve about advertising techniques and can be easily swayed by messages, especially if another child is shown enjoying the product. However, many ethical dilemma arise when advertising to children; many parents and adults in general may become incensed about your food product and the way that it is advertised if they see that it is advertised in a manipulative way.

If you are advertising to children, make sure that you are being completely truthful about your product and including disclaimers about it in your advertising! While it can be important to grab customers at a young age, it is also crucial that their parents view your organization as an ethical one that cares about the safety, health, and well-being of their children.

(See: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/advertising_and_society_review/v009/9.4.o-barr01.html)

Truth in Social Media

Many companies are pushing their public relations work into the world of social media. Websites like Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, and Twitter have become legitimate venues for companies to sell their products, market themselves, and upkeep up their public image.

However, this type of public relations can get ugly pretty quick for organizations: content, especially written content, must be carefully managed, because any information that is misleading or not truthful can be eventually used against the company in a legal battle.

Because of this danger, other companies shy away from implementing social media in their public relations agenda. However, there are many ways to use social media to your benefit, especially in the world of food, without relying on words and statements to advertise and market. Any food company can easily take advantage of social media by posting pictures of food products, posting special offers and deals on products, or offering additional information on their products (such as linking to an external website for the company).

The correct way to avoid legal issues is to have a strong PR policy that includes guidelines on the use of social media by employees.

If you’re looking for new, innovative, and effective ways to incorporate social media into your public relations agenda, check the following site for a wide variety of useful tools: http://www.pr-squared.com/index.php/resources. The site, written by a PR expert, offers a wide variety of external links on social media and especially marketing on these sites. Resources like these will become especially important as social media diversifies.

Hiring Professional Representation

It can be tempting to conduct your own public relations operations, especially if you are operating a small business. Many times, a company just doesn’t have the profit margin or comfort level to believe that they can adequately cover the salary of a professional public relations company. However, this is counterintuitive thinking. As automotive pioneer Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Essentially, hiring a PR company will save you both a lot of time and grief in the long run; these companies have tried and true methods of attracting customers and continuing bringing them back to a particular product. Not only that, but a professional PR company will be much more knowledgeable about advertising and public relations laws than you – it’s part of their job to keep you out of legal trouble!

Having a PR company is especially important in the competitive world of food production, in which there are a huge number of competitors that can take away potential customers in a heartbeat. Search the web to find the perfect PR company to represent you, but ensure that they are experienced and represent a wide range of products that are well-known and successful.

A quality professional food PR company is shown here: http://www.wildcard.co.uk/sectors/food-and-drink. A company like Wildcard can handle your public relations for you so that you can focus on more pressing matters such as distribution and operations.

Conclusion

To summarize, everything that is said through public relations is heavily scrutinized and can land a food company in a lot of hot water. Legal complications for any company can arise due to who they are marketing to, the wording of their communications, and the validity of their advertising. Pitfalls in food PR can easily be avoided by being careful with advertising statements and hiring a professional PR company to handle your strategy for you.

By Richard Glover. Richard is an independent business consultant and digital marketing specialist.

How to Eat Crow

Almost everyone eats crow at one time or another.  Usually a husband will eat it after an argument with his wife, or a boyfriend will eat a healthy portion after a quarrel with his girlfriend (if he wants to get anywhere with her.)  Politicians do not care to eat crow very much, but lately many of them have had to subsist on nothing BUT crow.  Your boss at the office probably never eats any, but insists that you eat plenty of it if you want to keep your job.

So what is the best way to cook crow before eating it?  Many prefer to eat it raw, feathers and all, just to get it over with.  But I prefer the French method of basting, poaching, marinating, and encapsulating.  Here is our family recipe for CROW DU JOUR:

  • Purchase one black crow.  Make sure it is a fresh bird by feeling its beak; if it snaps at you it is most certainly fresh.  Remove the feathers by plunging the bird in boiling water for ten minutes and then plunging the bird in ice water for five minutes.  If the feathers are still not coming out easily you can always take them off with a weed whacker.
  • Season the carcass lightly with salt, pepper, oregano, gunpowder and the zest from one watermelon.
  • Roll in bread crumbs.  (The bird, you dummy!)
  • Let the bird marinate in a mixture of 2 cups sherry, 2 cups rum, and 2 cups brandy for one hour.
  • At the end of the hour throw the bird away and drink the marinade, on the rocks.

As the French say:  Bon Appetite!  Or the Germans:  Gemulcht heim!  Or the British:  Stiff upper lip, old bean.  Or here in America:  Pass the Tums.