Here's your handy-dandy collection of all the Foodspins you'll need in order to put together a cookout good enough to stave off total abandonment by all of your loved ones for at least another 32 hours or so. We'll update this occasionally with new cookout-appropriate stuff. In the meantime, get cookin'. Readin'. Whatever.
"You are cooking bone-in, skin-on, by-God barbecued chicken thighs, and you're doing it on an oversized ashtray full of cheap-shit charcoal, and you are doing this because you know what is good."
"The real tragedy of salad's abysmal reputation among people who otherwise know what is good is that it's neither challenging nor particularly pricey to construct a salad that is tasty enough to literally—literally!—cause your eyes to come together and fuse into a single enormous Cyclops eye when you taste it."
"If the story of your pursuit of healthfulness can't satisfy you without also doubling as a narrative of grim willpower triumphing over the abject misery of self-denial, hell, brining your chicken breasts involves more work. Is that harsh enough for you, Cotton Mather?"
"Calling cooked potatoes and a token smattering of vegetables tossed in what's basically seasoned mayonnaise a salad is rather like calling ketchup a vegetable, or Jim Gray a human being: Sure, there might be some flimsy, threadbare technical basis for doing so—Well, the etymological root of the word 'salad' comes to us from the ancient Urartian word 'saal,' which many scholars would argue refers to the human testicle, which is shaped not totally unlike a tiny Russet potato—but, c'mon. Nobody's really buying it."
"Use what you like, here, cheese-wise. More precisely, use what your guests like. The proper way to determine this is to walk among them, before you put the burgers on the grill, point the spatula at their respective sternums, cock a stern eyebrow at them, and say, 'Cheese?' If they respond in the affirmative, raise your other eyebrow so that both of your eyebrows are raised together, and say, 'What kind?' When they tell you, narrow your eyes slightly, nod mysteriously, and repeat their choice back to them in such a way that they feel ever so slightly unsure of whether they answered incorrectly.
If they answer in the negative, ask them to leave. If they laugh at this request, call the police."
"Look. I know what it's like. I used to think of dessert-making as something for the blue-haired set and, like, French people and Martha Stewart and successful grownups who have their shit together enough to actually make yet another quasi-meal at the end of a long day. I still think all of that, but I also have some peach cobbler, which makes it OK that my kitchen appears as though a giant picked it up and shook it vigorously for five minutes before dropping it roughly back into place."
"With your disgusting, grubby, soot-blackened fingers (in this conception of things, you are an Elizabethan-era chimney-sweep), yank the meat from its brine or yogurt marinade (you chicken-thigh people are way ahead of the game; watch some baseball or something, willya? We're workin' here, by gum) and viciously impale it on skewers, imagining all the while that each wad of meat is one of Rick Perry's fingers, how do you like that you incoherent boob sonofabitch."
"I realize you're going to spend Independence Day happily drinking whatever cold adult beverage you're served, because you're polite and you're an alcoholic. And I trust you'll have a fine old time no matter what you drink. But that doesn't mean America's shitbrews are all the same. The list below breaks down 36 of them, from worst to least-worst."
"Who the fuck wants 'Beef N Cheese' dip? Who the fuck goes out into the night in search of a safety-cone-orange chip dip with perfectly cubic hunks of rubbery fake meat suspended in it? Anyone? Anyone? Because I've still fucking got some. I've still fucking got some, and it's in the trash but what the fuck difference does that make because it was trash to begin with and will always be trash and there is trash in my digestive system and I want to die."
"People avoid all sorts of boozes for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you're too broke for Scotch or too smug for vodka. Maybe beer bloats and disappoints you. Perhaps the smell of bourbon reminds you of Grandpa's special beatin' shoe. Or maybe you're like I used to be, and you associate tequila with fratsos and Hagars and loud woo-hoo! women who wear tiaras for the duration of their 'birthday weekend' and call their boobs 'the girls.'"
"The basic idea with making tasty ribs is that you want the lowest sustainable heat you can manage, but that it is considered unfashionable in our puritanical culture to walk around with a rack of ribs stuffed into your armpit, so you make do with the next-lowest sustainable heat you can manage, which is usually around 200 degrees or so. You apply this heat to your ribs for a very long time, and at the end, whether you used a spice rub or barbecue sauce or both or neither, whether you used wood smoke or charcoal or both or neither, you will have tasty, juicy, tender ribs."
"This is a large, flat cut of beef from the abdominal muscles of a cow; it's tougher than most other steak cuts, because the abdominal muscles of a cow do a lot of work, especially when the night is overcast and dark and the humans are reading in bed and the cows lay on their backs in the fields and do crunches in rhythm to lame techno music at modest volumes."
"Let me explain my methodology: First I drank a wicked lot of beers, then I arranged them into a list."
"The pain-in-the-ass parts of making a mint julep are crushing ice and muddling mint. You also need simple syrup, which you don't have, but for Christ's sake, just simmer a cup of sugar into a cup of water already. Or you could buy some, but that's a sucker's move, because nothing is cheaper and easier to prepare than simple syrup."
The entire rest of the Foodspin Archive can be found here.