By Scott Hamblen
Every home cook has a few go-to recipes, quick and easy meals the entire family will enjoy.
According to the International Food Information Council’s annual food and health survey, 85% of Americans have altered their food habits since the pandemic began. Namely, they are eating out less and cooking more often at home.
However, there are only so many times you can serve lasagna, chicken and rice, meatloaf and casserole before your family grows tired of the same dinner menu. By now, your family has probably had its fill of spaghetti and meatballs, pot roast and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s not only time to change what you’re cooking – it’s time to change how you cook.
Grilling is a great way to spice up mealtime. Food just has a different flavor and texture when it’s served hot off the grill. With Southwest Florida’s amazing fall, winter and spring weather on the way, it’s a great time to upgrade your grill game.
As summer winds down, manufacturers are offering special incentives to encourage grill masters to upgrade their outdoor kitchens. Here are six questions to ask yourself before buying a new grill:
What is your preferred heating source?
There are four primary options for grills: gas, charcoal, wood pellet and electric.
Gas and electric grills are quick to heat and offer little post-dinner cleanup.
Charcoal and wood pellet grills take longer to heat up, but the smoky flavor makes dinner worth the wait.
What foods do you want to grill?
Less experienced outdoor cooks often stick with hamburgers, hotdogs and bratwurst because they’re easy to cook.
Skilled grill masters, however, aren’t afraid to throw prime steak, ribs and even fresh-caught fish on the grill.
If you’re buying expensive cuts of meat, you don’t want to turn filet mignon into beef jerky by using a cheap grill.
Do you want to smoke or grill your food?
Grilling involves placing items over a higher heat level for a shorter period of time, giving meats a good seared flavor.
Smoking uses low temperatures for a longer period of time to keep a meat’s flavor and texture from disappearing.
Determine if you’re looking for a quick turnaround or willing to make it worth the wait.
What is the right size?
Small, tabletop grills generally have enough surface area to cook two split chicken breasts or four hamburger patties. They are great for camping, picnicking and taking on the boat.
However, if you have a large family or expect to invite neighbors or friends to a party, then you’ll need a grill capable of cooking entrées for every individual in attendance.
Much like a restaurant, the goal is to cook and serve all guests at the same time, so you want to avoid grilling two or three batches of food.
What is your budget?
Basic tabletop grills can cost as little as $15. Meanwhile, large top-of-the-line grills and smokers with side burners, storage, a temperature gauge and other bells and whistles can run $2,500 or more. Buying a grill is like shopping for a car – determine your budget before entering the showroom. Weber, Big Green Egg, Traeger and Napoleon are four of the most desired brands among grill masters.
How will my grill get home?
Stores have dozens of grill models on display. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the grill you will take home. Many retailers will give you a large, factory-sealed box full of parts that won’t fit inside most cars. Search for a store that offers expert knowledge, free assembly and free delivery.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s 2020 State of the Barbecue Industry survey found that 64% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker. Behind baseball, grilling truly is America’s pastime.
About the Author
Scott Hamblen is chief merchandising and marketing officer at Sunshine Ace Hardware and Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware, which carry an extensive selection of grills, smokers, attachments, accessories and rubs. The Naples-based company offers free assembly and delivery of grills.
When first visiting a property in Bokeelia, we were amazed to find our client’s property is nestled in the middle of over 100 acres of palm fields. While making our way to the center where we would be working to develop a layout, we found it to be one of the most beautiful drives as we made our way through the fields containing nearly every known palm in virtually all sizes.
The immense lush pathways and impressive statues virtually hid the home during our initial approach up the drive. As you journey further in, the landscaping astounds you. Each planting and designed space was manicured and primed for additional features. The paths created a childlike excitement. We estimate over 70 different plant species were already established and well arranged. With the vast amount of established plants and statuary, we would be able to highlight and expand those existing features to an even grander scale.
Making our way through the many trails, we realized they were designed with a destination in mind, or an option to continue the journey to the other outdoor spaces. These walkways opened to grand scale settings, including a large tropical oasis, private areas framed by huge palms and vegetation, and overall the perfect setting where the home and the property became one with nature.
Our client is passionate about his substantial and growing collection of statues, large boulders, and fountains. The property is bold and eclectic, yet structured, with an abundance of elements to create a wood, water, and stone balance, in all the framed areas. We could create spaces ideal for meditation, a family gathering, yoga, reading, and picnicking. For the area we were creating, we recognized the nighttime lighting for the statuary, as well as the water features, would need to cohere to the perfect yet bold balances already existing on the property.
Having utilized several different types of lighting systems on ponds and in gardens, we knew using Atlantic color changing lights would pull together the underwater lighting, while adding the “wow” factor to the project, without overpowering the design. We discussed some of the options with the client, including being able to change the lights to a wide spectrum of 48 color selections. In addition to the water feature lighting, we incorporated Garden Light Lighting to subtly feature the trees and caves in the surrounding area. We chose the Garden Light brand because of their 20-year-warranty, in addition to the solid brass casing which will extend the life of the sanctuary’s glow for years to come.
We spotlighted many of the palm trees using Garden Light Lighting, and were able to expand the lighting with spotlights extending upwards of 40 feet into the top of the palms. The multiple angle degree options of these lights stretched the lighting into the caves located in the area. The multi-light system created an illuminating glow for the water, water features, caves, with the bonus of illuminating the trunks and tops of the palm trees. Our client’s garden still has additional work and plans are to add 100 additional spotlights along the walkways, caves and trees throughout the property.
The beauty of including specialty lighting for water features and spotlighting is the client will be able to easily adjust a switch and create a unique and different appearance. The same space can be transformed into multiple spaces with the use of lighting and properly placed landscape features. This flexibility creates both spectacular light shows in every area based on use or mood. Subtle lights for relaxation and meditation or bolder bright lighting for family gatherings and outdoor dinner parties. The water, rock, and plant features created were designed with the day or night lighting effects, thus all working together cohesively and balancing the space, regardless of which color lighting is selected.
Looking to make some home improvements? Need some work done around the house and don’t want to do it yourself?
Come out and join us on Saturday, April 1st, from 10 am – 2 pm for a FREE community home show. We have a wide variety of businesses who will be there to help you with information and answer any questions you may have.
The Home Show is being held in the Sandoval Community Center in Cape Coral. This event is open to the public and the community gates will be open during the event.