Here in the Outer Banks we’ve got reason to celebrate all summer. That’s why so many local residents turn their yards into an outdoor haven for the summer. If you’re thinking about putting together an outdoor cooking area, the first thing to take into consideration is your budget. Don’t take on an expensive project just to keep up with the neighbors. Many families are quite happy with a deck or patio, some comfy chairs in the shade, and a regular grill for their parties. You might want to add a fire pit for steaming seafood or veggies, or preparing your famous s’mores.

Others set up an outdoor kitchen to meet all of their needs. Many come complete with a high-end grill, smoker, refrigerator, sink and running water, and some even have a brick oven to make pizza. The choice is up to you, but keep in mind that you’d have to do an awful lot of cooking outdoors to achieve a real return on your investment.

The second consideration is location. You’ll want an outdoor cooking area that is relatively close to your house.  This gives easy access to the kitchen, changing room, restroom, etc.  Close proximity also makes it a lot easier to carry dishes, drinks and food items back and forth. Avoid areas where natures creatures like to hang out, and make sure to provide plenty of shade from our hot Carolina sun. If you live near the water, you might consider adding a convenient outdoor changing area as well.

Safety is a must. Find a location that is clear of fire hazards, and make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy at all times. The area should be flat, with well-lit walking paths so you and your guests won’t trip. When cooking, always be aware of food preparation temperatures, use separate dishes for raw and cooked meat, and don’t leave cooked items in heat too long – particularly food items with a dairy component like potato or macaroni salad, dips, etc.

Now it’s time to get cooking! 
You’ll need a meat thermometer, salt and pepper, seasonings, and your favorite barbeque sauce, with plenty of ice for the cold drinks. Here are a few quick and easy meal ideas to get you started:

Tempting Appetizers: Southern Living has some perfect ideas for entertaining outside. Their finger food collection features meats served straight off the grill. Check out their Carolina Grilled Shrimp, or the spicy Layered Spicy Black Bean Dip.

The Main Course: You can’t go wrong with an outdoor barbeque – chicken, pork, brisket, and more. But don’t stop at just grilling meat; think about grilling vegetables, fruit and even desserts. Country Living has some grilling recipes that will make your next get together epic, and trust Martha Stewart to provide the seafood ideas.

Now that your outdoor cooking area is ready, it’s time for some outdoor summer party fun. If you need more ideas on how to make your Outer Banks outdoor living area more comfortable this summer, contact us today for tips and ideas!