Saturday, May 28, 2011

Are you ready for summer cookouts?


Beginning around January 1st every year, I count each day off on the calendar, waiting for summer to arrive in Buffalo. Winter is often a long, hard season for us Buffalonians. We endure hit after hit after hit of lake effect snow, blizzards, bone chilling below zero temperatures, icy roads and miserable colds. Each year I get older, and each year winter seems to come earlier and stay longer. The first real snowstorm I remember is the Blizzard of '77. I wasn't quite 10 years old when that storm hit us, and hit us hard. I was a 4th grade student at St. Benedict's School in Amherst, NY, and I remember my mother coming to get us in an almost blinding snowstorm. I remember being in the boiler room with other students. Mr. June, the janitor, was a faithful attendant, and the nuns and lay teachers swarmed around us, making sure we kept our coats on to keep warm. As each child left with a parent or guardian, each educator and staff member breathed a sigh of relief. My sister and I were two of the last to leave the school, and the nuns were preparing to take the remaining students to the convent next door for the night. Many of the teachers were also preparing to spend the night, either at the convent or the rectory on the other side of the school.

Each year I breathe a sigh of relief when Spring opens her arms in Buffalo. She comes late, she doesn't stay long, but she is glorious while she is here. Lilacs bloom, tulips spread their wings, grass grows, trees dress up in their greenest spring finery. As quickly as Spring arrives, she is pushed out by Lady Summer. Lazy Lady Summer! Buffalo waits 9 long months for her to arrive, and the celebrations to greet her are numerous and wonderful! Simple backyard family cookouts, Italian Festival, Canal Fest, Taste of Buffalo, free concerts in every nook and cranny of the Queen City and its suburbs. The heat, the humidity! Boating on Lake Erie or the Niagara River. Teds for hot dogs, Andersons for frozen custard, the traditions carry on well into the season, and even when Mr. Autumn arrives, we Buffalonians aren't quite done with Lady Summer. 

Over the years I've collected many, many recipes for barbecued chicken, marinated steaks, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and more. I like to start pulling them out in March and shopping for all the ingredients we'll need for a cookout, planned or impromptu. I'm happy to share some of those recipes with you, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do.

Remember, I'm a frugal lady, so if it's not affordable, we don't do it. Many times I try to duplicate recipes from restaurants, which in the long run saves me money because I'm not dining out. It may not seem frugal, but if I can make a great restaurant-quality dinner for four people for $40, it ultimately saves me $100, because dining out as a "foodie family" can be quite expensive!



There are lots more recipes to come! I've been cleaning up my recipe files and typing up lots and lots of goodies. I hope you'll come back to see what we're cooking all Summer long!

Till next time, I remain Frugally Yours,

Rachael Monaco



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