Red White and Food

Summer is quickly approaching, which means it is time to text your friends and family, bring out your finest grill or smoker and some paper plates, and have a good ole’ fashioned barbeque. The summer holiday has so many opportunities to get together with those you love and share one of the easiest and most common ways to spend your time: eating food. 

Celebrate family members and others who have served our country with a Memorial Day gathering; our country’s independence with a classic Fourth of July cookout, complete with fireworks and food; or celebrate your dad and father figures in your life on Father’s Day by grilling for them instead. 

Regardless of the holiday you are celebrating, or whether you just need an excuse to have a fun time with family and friends, there are so many go-to classic staple foods made for a good cookout. These can range from simply throwing burgers on a grill to boiling crawfish to cooking up a fine steak for yourself or a brisket for the family.

Head to your local grocery store or farmer’s market and grab some hamburger patties, fresh veggies, some buns, and a gallon of sweet tea for your casual family gathering. 

If you’re in the mood to cook for a bigger group, head to your local fish market and grab some crawfish—unless you decide to catch them yourself—potatoes, your favorite blend of spices, and some corn, to have the ultimate crawfish boil. Or if you’re having a fancy feast with your loved ones and close friends, break out the smoker and grill and your favorite brisket recipe that can feed a small village, accompanied by loaded baked potatoes, grilled veggie kabobs, and yet another gallon of sweet tea. 

If you don’t have the time or ability to spend hours preparing a meal and cooking, don’t fret. There are other options if cooking isn’t your jam: plenty of catering companies, like my own, would love to help feed a small army of little cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Catering gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax, and focus on spending time with those you love, while still getting to enjoy some good American cuisine. 

And if you don’t feel like doing it all yourself, enlist the help of some close friends and host a potluck. There is nothing better than getting to put your heart and soul into your favorite dish to share with everyone, whether it is a homemade queso, green bean casserole, or your grandmother’s classic, secret apple pie recipe. 

While you’re at it, take your friends and head into downtown Benton for a day of eating great, locally-sourced foods, as well as shopping local. And you can end your day by stopping by a local sno-cone shack and cooling off with a Bryant Hornet or Benton Panther themed sno-cone—or visit a local ice cream shop. Not only will you be treating yourself to a day full of fun with friends and food, but you will also be supporting your local businesses. Whether you are checking out the Downtown Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning, eating at Baja Grill or Italy in Town, or visiting local shops like True Boutique, The Oil Shop, or Salt Soap Co., take the time to funnel support back into your community. And if you’re looking for a day of luxury, try treating yourself to a facial or massage at The Skin Bar.

Summertime in Saline County is one full of friends, family, and local fun. It doesn’t matter your budget or schedule, there’s always something to do. Have that family cookout, take your friends out for lunch downtown, and try your best to support your local businesses in the meantime.

Avocado-Corn-Tomato Salad with Strawberries & Goat Cheese

         (Summer in a Bowl)


• 1/2 quart strawberries, washed and halved

• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1 avocado, cubed

• 1 ear of corn (sweet Esau corn is great)

• 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

• 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped


Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Husk the corn and boil for 3-5 minutes, until kernels are bright yellow but still crunchy.

Remove corn from water, and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Slice off kernels with a sharp knife.

Combine strawberries, tomatoes, corn, avocado, goat cheese, and basil in a large bowl and mix together.

Prepare dressing by whisking together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the bowl and continue to whisk with your other hand until emulsified.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine, until ingredients are evenly coated


• 1 tbsp minced shallot

• 1 tbsp lemon juice

• 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

• 2 tsp honey

• 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 3 tbsp olive oil