More hours of daylight mean more hours for summer fun. Wake up early to enjoy the sunrise, then get out and enjoy the sun by taking a long hike in the wilderness, Ecological Calendar suggests. Invite friends and family to enjoy the twilight hours at a cookout after work, or take the day off to go swimming or boating. Cool off with an ice cream cone or tall class of lemonade. Starting Saturday, the days will slowly get shorter and shorter until there’s as little as nine hours of daylight in the lower 48 states, so the #solstice invites you to make the most of summer while you can.
Be true to the red, white and blue when you’re assembling dishes for your Fourth of July cookout or potluck, says The Gracious Wife blog. Simple recipes for “red, white and blueberry” popsicles, Rice Krispie treats, Jello cookies, cupcakes and a refreshing patriotic punch all find ways for foods to sport the colors of the flag in commemoration of the nation’s birth. Looking for something a bit healthier to serve in celebration? Loaded with superfoods, a strawberry/blueberry spinach salad might be the ultimate healthy-yet-patriotic dish to pass.
Everyone loves a cookout, but not everyone knows their way around a grill. For the best results, follow a few simple pro tips. If using charcoal, skip the lighter fluid and instead start your coals using a chimney, Country Living says. Keep the grill lid down whenever possible to seal in heat and moisture, and create zones of high and medium heat on the grill surface. Try a dry rub or marinade on meats, and start with a clean, greased grate. And finally, don’t poke meat constantly to check for doneness; either invest in a digital thermometer or take the meat off the heat early — you can always put it back on if it’s still too rare.
Have you been invited to a Memorial Day cookout and need a dish to pass? Food & Wine has 10 suggestions for elevated, crowd-pleasing sides that travel well. Watermelon salad with mint and feta, green bean slaw and Thai cucumber salad offer refreshing light bites for the year’s first hot days, while apple pie bars and walnut brownies will round out the cookout. If you prefer to indulge with traditional comfort classics, make a potato salad or deviled eggs, but be safe — don’t leave those dishes to bake in the sun and risk a case of food poisoning.
Memorial Day was established to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers, but has expanded over the years to include all veterans of the armed forces. To honor their service, attend a parade, lay some flowers and a miniature flag at a local gravesite, or invite a living veteran to your cookout; you can also probably find a veteran charity picnic in the area and lend your support. And when flying the flag, keep it at half-staff in remembrance until noon, Homes.com says, then raise it to full-staff at noon to symbolize the ongoing fight for freedom.