Foil Pouch Grilling for Memorial Day

Consider foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day. As we all look for ways to interact with friends and neighbors, some thoughtful preparation can make everyone feel safer and more comfortable. If you’re not in a quarantine bubble and are grilling with friends this Memorial Day, you may want to consider individual meals rather than shared plates. Foil pouches are a great way to package food so that it’s only touched by one individual after it’s cooked.

With experts recommending that gatherings stay outside as much as possible, foil pouches are an easy delivery system whether you’re cooking on the grill or baking inside for delivery to the porch or yard. If you invite picky eaters or want to offer your guests flavor choices, pouches can be tailored to individual tastes. This is a great option for those with food intolerance or allergies as well.

When creating individual pouches, the key is making sure you have a way to identify who each pouch belongs to. I like to draw a grid on a sheet of paper that matches the arrangement on my grill or pan. Once the food is done, I put the corresponding name on each pouch with freezer tape. If you’re less messy than I am, you can also use a marker.

Your protein choice may be limited to whatever is available this year. Flexibility will be key to keeping the experience positive. If you’re not sure what flavors to combine, a resource like The Flavor Bible can come in handy.

For the kids, pouches filled with frozen tater tots and meatballs, hot dogs, or burgers are great options. You can top with cheese or dairy-free cheese and provide condiments in individual packets.

Mac & cheese is a kid favorite as well. You’ll want to cook the mac & cheese before creating a pouch. If you have a gluten-free or dairy-free child to consider, look for small portions of microwaveable mac & cheese to keep it simple. Bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, and hot dogs go great with mac & cheese. If you have pizza sauce handy, create pizza flavored packs with mac & cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni.

Deconstructed kebabs are easily adapted to individual tastes. Beef kebabs with bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms will appeal to the more traditional grillers. You can also consider Greek flavors combining chicken, red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese; or go another direction with chicken satay and coconut rice. Choose Thai beef with quinoa, or barbecue chicken with pineapple. The combinations are really limitless and easily adapted to the items available in your area.

Shepherd’s pie can be baked in foil pouches. You can also combine mashed potatoes, fresh spinach and browned breakfast sausage for a variation on this theme. Whatever the flavors, cooking in foil keeps the meat moist and the food warm until you’re ready to serve.

For the comfort of your family and friends, provide drinks in individual cans or bottles rather than pouring from shared bottles and pitchers. Choose prepackaged individual snacks containing nuts, fruit, cheese, trail mix, or chips to accompany your foil pouches. Offer individually packaged condiments, salt, and pepper. You may also want to provide masks, and hand sanitizer (if you can find it) or hand wipes.

There are many different levels of comfort regarding social interactions at this moment. If someone chooses to decline your invitation, wear gloves, bring their own food, or not eat at all, please remember it is not necessarily about you or your food. It is most likely about their understanding of risk and the level of risk they are willing to assume.

We are learning. Recommendations change. Studies will be replaced by larger and better studies. No one will know what facts are supported by the most meticulous science for a great while. And getting it exactly right at this moment may not be as important to someone as feeling safe. (Being safe may be the penultimate goal, but is somewhat elusive without complete isolation.)

Tolerance is a precious gift. I wish it for you and I wish it from you. For me, at multiple moments in March and April, tolerance has been as hard to find as toilet paper. This feels personally sad and culturally worrisome. We can do better.

We have been offered a great opportunity to learn in the form of unavoidable change. We can choose to resist or to grow. Surrendering to change is required for both resiliency and growth. While you relax and enjoy foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day, please remember that now is the time to choose thoughtfully and carefully.

Remembering and Renewal Can Go Hand-in-Hand

DaisyRemembering and renewal can go hand-in-hand. Where I grew up, Memorial Day coincided with larger traditions of Decoration Day. While the official holiday is to remember our veterans who died, my mom spent the day visiting every cemetery in which our relatives are buried. She’d remove last year’s old, faded, plastic arrangement from each grave and replace it with a new one.

This morning I am at my mother’s house, the one that now belongs to me and my sister. I walked down the road to the farm homesteaded by my great, great, great grandmother looking for wild strawberries. When I was here a few weeks ago they were in full bloom, so I was excited by the possibility of picking the small, juicy berries. I remember when I was 5 or 6 picking berries off these stems and popping them in my mouth right there on the spot. They were delicious.

Today, there are no berries, just a few stems chewed flat at the top most likely by the rabbit I saw bounding across the yard. While I feel disappointed about the berries, I had an enjoyable walk past an incredible display of verdant fields and a roadside of hearty weeds topped with delicate flowers. All around me I saw growth, change, renewal.

It’s common to become attached to things that feel familiar – not just furniture, paintings, dishes or clothes, but attitudes, beliefs, and emotions. Sometimes loss or change will cause us to grasp onto the familiar with a death grip and hold on for dear life. Stay in an emotional spot too long and soon enough you’re in a rut. Ruts can be deep tracks that we subconsciously follow. While they give us a defined path which can look like a way forward, they also limit us to that path which can sometimes mean we’re stuck.
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When we’re stuck, there is no renewal. There’s no room for new growth because our physical, spiritual, and emotional space is full of the familiar. Remembering how things used to be can be a method of hanging onto the past and keeping us stuck, but it doesn’t have to be and nature is a great reminder of that.

I know what it feels like to move into the familiar groove of feeling alone, not really lonely, just alone as though I must carry any burden by myself. The only reason this is a reality for me now is that I easily slide into that familiar groove. I do it in spite of many layers of healing. It was my reality for so long at so young an age that I have many layers left to heal.

The good news is that not only do I have a healing process I trust, I see examples all around me of the renewal that happens naturally when we stop interfering.
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I see it in the sticker bush that in two weeks has grown from two feet tall to 5 feet tall.
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I see it in the blackberry bushes that in the same two weeks have shed lively flowers and begun to create fruit.
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I see renewal in the dandelions that spread their seeds on the wind. And I’m seeing all of this renewal on the farm where I grew up, the same farm where I spent most of my days walking through the fields and sitting in the woods…alone. It is a place of many memories. It is a place of renewal and growth.

Sometimes we remember how great things were because those are the things that left the biggest impression. This can either keep us stuck in the past or encouraged for the future. Sometimes we remember only the bad things. This can keep us stuck in our pain or give us a starting point for healing and renewal. Staying stuck in our memories or connecting with our memories to heal and move forward begin in the same place. It is the place of choice.

When I interviewed Life Coach Mack Arrington for our Cooking2Thrive interview series, he pointed out a moment at which I was “at choice”. It’s an expression I’ve heard from other life coaches and it’s exactly the time/place where memory and renewal intersect. Memorial Day is the perfect time for renewal to begin.