Smith Mountain Lake in the fall is a glorious place to be. It is full of crisp, clear sunshiny days and last-minute plans for cook-outs and day trips. It is the time to put your favorite sweater on and take walks in the woods. It is time to take pictures of the colorful leaves and grill out on the deck. I have to admit fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and of course, food even tastes better in the cool fall air. Whether your fall meals are indoors or out, the article below by the folks at The Lake Channel will help you be sure you are well-prepared for the experience.
To prepare your food quickly and without a lot of cleanup, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. You may or may not already be familiar with these pieces of cooking equipment.
When in doubt, throw a steak or marinated chicken on the grill for the main course. You can probably even get your husband or one of the men to tend the grill so you can deal with the rest of the meal. We have found that it pays to get a larger grill – the smaller ones don’t have enough room to cook for company. At least two levels of cooking surfaces are helpful, so you can move meat between levels to adjust for the cooking variations. We have the side burners on our gas grills but rarely use them. I try to stay out of the way, boil corn or cook whatever side dishes we are having in the house, and let my husband man the grill.
Great freedom can be realized by putting together a crock pot meal at breakfast time, turning it on, and then leaving for a day on the lake.
Thank goodness someone finally invented a way to cook in the oven without having to scrub baked-on food off of pans afterward. They come in plastic or foil types. The foil kind can be used on the grill as well as in the oven. You can cook the whole meal in one bag for up to 8 people. They tend to make the food cook more quickly as well as make meat more tender.
Rice Cooker/Vegetable Steamer
This is a big labor saver, just throw in the ingredients and turn it on 15-20 minutes before serving. It also doubles as a serving bowl, reducing dishes!
Large Turkey Fryer/Boiling Pot
Large (30 quarts) turkey fryer/boiling pot with its propane gas supply. Another opportunity to get the men involved and to keep the cooking out of the kitchen. Be sure to get a fryer with a very sturdy and strong base. Our first fryer was rickety (OK, cheap), and when we tried to use it the tubing caught on fire! Our second one has been wonderful, and we have enjoyed trying different spices and rubs on the turkey to enhance the flavor. My tip for the fryer is – Don’t buy whole turkeys, just buy the bone-in turkey breasts. You can cook 2 turkey breasts instead of one turkey and get more meat as a result. It is amazing how juicy and tender it is.
I have been enjoying clay pot cooking for many years. If you have never tried this moist heat cooking method, you should go out and buy one. You can cook at much higher temperatures, while still getting a very moist and tasty result. It also allows you to cook the meat and vegetables together in one pot. Make sure to get a large enough one to cook a large roast hen or pot roast.
Thanks again to The Lake Channel for their Essential Cooking Equipment and other tips.