Make the most of longer, warmer days with this guide to summer cooking

Photo of BBQ grilling
Jun Sieta/Creative Commons

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Summer is right around the corner, and that calls for a guide to cooking during the best season of the year. Whether you’re spending your summer in Berkeley or at home, take advantage of nice weather, the hype that comes along with the Fourth of July and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to elevate your cooking game to the next level. 

Barbecue

Personally, I think being invited to a barbecue and finding out the host has defined that as hamburgers and hot dogs is one of the biggest letdowns of all time. When I hear “barbecue,” I think of ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings, grilled corn, macaroni salad and baked beans. To up your barbecue game to this level, read up on strategies for oven-baked ribs or follow along with Babish’s recipe for pulled pork seasonings in conjunction with his method for baking a pork shoulder — the goal is to get it crispy on the outside and nearly falling apart internally. 

Family-style meals

Making food is a guaranteed way to bring people together. If you have a grill outside or are willing to dedicate a couple of hours to cooking indoors, you can put together a decent feast for friends, family and the like. Ideas include an assortment of pastas, meats and sides, or Korean BBQ at home. Sport your favorite “kiss the cook” apron and show off your skills with some meals that are sure to impress.

Get outside

Weather is a huge part of what makes summer so great. Longer days and warmer weather mean you can hang out outside late into the evening without being freezing cold. I’d recommend cleaning up that grill you almost never use or moving a dining table outside so you can arrange plans that will stretch past sunset — moving closer to 9 p.m. as we make it further into the summer. 

Experiment with cocktails and beers

As I’ve previously published, supermarket chains have a surprisingly diverse selection of beers. If beer isn’t your thing, you can mix it up by adding your liquor of choice to these mocktails. Summertime provides you the freedom to lighten the mood with an appropriate amount of alcohol, so experiment with your favorite pairings of beer and barbecue or cocktails and a litany of appetizers. 

Use your free time to get creative

Without the constant and overbearing nature of school, summer is a time when you can tweak recipes and experiment with new methods and ingredients. Summertime is when I tend to work on my recipe for brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Think about dishes you like to cook on the regular and take advantage of free time to make edits that raise the bar of your home cooking. 

With fresh and seasonal ingredients, longer days, nicer weather and more free time, summer provides a prime opportunity to bring your home cooking to the next level. Hopefully, with increased vaccination rates and relaxed restrictions, this summer will provide you with the rewarding experience of sharing that cooking with friends and family again.

Contact Abhi Varma at [email protected].