Now that we’re in the dog days of summer, I thought it a good time for a post on how to make your summer get-togethers a touch more green. For help, I turned to our new Green Entertaining Expert, Nicole Aloni, author of the website and upcoming book A Conscious Feast and passionate advocate of environmentally-wise entertaining.
“Natural gas or propane is the most environmentally-friendly choice,” says Nicole. Yet she acknowledges the smoky appeal of charcoal. If you must go gasless, a good solution is to use lump charcoal, which is made from hardwood (you can find bags in most hardware and grilling stores nowadays). “Regular briquettes use fillers that let off toxic fumes into the environment . . . and your food.” Skip the lighter fluid, which Nicole says is also “a big no-no” for the same reasons as briquettes, and use a chimney starter instead; you’ll be surprised how effective it is despite its simplistic design.
While disposable paper plates are the embodiment of ease, they’re not the most friendly on the environment. But don’t feel like you need to spring for a set of eco-groovy bamboo or palm leaf dishes (although boy they are nice) every time you picnic, instead just tote along the dishes you normally use. We stack cloth napkins in between our plates to keep them from knocking together and wrap them (after scraping off the food) in the tablecloth when we’re done. If your dishes are especially messy (or your tablecloth especially nice), Nicole suggests wrapping them tight with plastic wrap and tying them up in a garbage bag. “That way they don’t rattle around and slosh goo all over the car.” Either way, just unwrap and run through the dishwasher when you get home.
Greener Bug Control
We’ve all had cookouts tainted by the scent of bug spray. Instead, swap the can for a spade and plant a hedge of alliums or marigolds, suggests Nicole. They’re beautiful for guests to behold but unappealing to many pests. If it’s yellowjackets you’re plagued by, fill small bowls with dry ground coffee and light them on fire so they smolder, then set them around the yard. I picked up this gem of a tip while at Rancho La Puerta and was astounded by how well it worked.
So light up your gas grill (or fire up your chimney starter), pack up your porcelain plates and light some coffee . . . then cook up these savory chicken legs for a green summery feast.