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Making guests happy when dining al fresco

August 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
When it's too hot to cook in the kitchen, take it outdoors. Just turn on the grill and grab fresh ingredients.

Cookbook author and food stylist Denise Vivaldo has made some pretty cool discoveries for when temperatures rise, beginning with knowing where's the best spot to party.

"You should know where the sun moves in your yard, so that you can plan with the umbrellas or the shade. Or certainly in the hottest part of the day, you might want to start an hour or two after that so that your guests aren't melting," said Vivaldo.

Nobody likes melting guests or pesky insects.

"I spray some bug spray before my guest arrive and it seems to keep them at bay," said Vivaldo.

If you're going to a park, Vivaldo recommends getting there an hour prior to the party to spray and set out traps along with using natural helpers.

"Fresh herbs like lavender is a natural bug repellent so I will place those around the barbecue," said Vivaldo.

You can also keep bugs off with food guards found at the 99 Cents Only Store that fold up for easy take home.

Vivaldo sets out baskets with all kinds of goodies, such as hand fans or extra sunglasses, to keep friends and families cool.

"I put hats, fans, tissues, sunscreen, all that stuff, in a basket on every table," said Vivaldo. "My guest can utilize them during the party."

Of course food is the main feature.

"I design a menu that I can do everything on the grill so I never have to turn my oven on," said Vivaldo.

For example, she made chili and shish kabob.

"I have cooked pizzas on the grill. I have cooked peach pie on the grill, corn on the cob, vegetables," said Vivaldo.

She makes sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand for safety.

"I learned the fire extinguisher the hard way. When one of my guest yelled, 'Denise the table cloth is on fire,' I thought never do this again without a fire extinguisher," Vivaldo said.

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