Routines – Helpful To the Stay-At-Home Dad And His Children

Parenting can be hectic and stressful, but with the right routines in place, parenting can be easier and more enjoyable. Children need structure in their lives. Having routines makes them feel safe, loved, and secure. There are also practical benefits to implementing routines. A bedtime routine helps ensure that children get the sleep they need to develop properly. A designated time for homework helps kids keep up with their schoolwork. A schedule for chores teaches children responsibility, and encourages them to think of their family as a team that works together. Although each family has individual needs and you will want to make sure that any routine you start will work for your children, routines can make it possible for you to enjoy an organized, orderly life.

Establishing Routines

For many dads, the thought of establishing routines seems overwhelming. Some routines are more difficult to establish than others, such as chore schedules and bedtimes. Children might initially be resistant to routines that require them to go to bed on time or help out around the house. Do not let your child’s initial reluctance prevent you from living an organized life. Start by sitting down with your children and explaining both the new routine and the reasons behind it. You might consider easing the transition by offering a special reward or treat if they follow their new routine. If you are patient but firm, within a few weeks your children should adjust to both the new schedule and your new expectations. It might take some time for you to establish routines and you may need to make minor adjustments before you find a schedule that works for you and your kids.

Ease the Transition Between School and Home

For many parents, the time immediately after school can be difficult. After their long day in the classroom, many children come home tired and cranky. Consider developing a routine that will ease the transition between school and home. A healthy snack can be a great afternoon pickup, and can give them a chance to talk about their day with you. You could also have the kids play outside (weather permitting) for a half an hour after they get home from school. Regular physical activity is crucial for healthy, happy kids, so make sure you include some form of exercise in your household’s routine.

Homework Time

School-aged children should have a designated time each day when they do their homework or review their lessons. Make it part of the routine that each child needs to clean out their backpacks each day. A parent can help younger children organize their schoolwork, and staying on top of the paper clutter your children bring home can help you avoid missing important notes from teachers. On a day when your child does not have a lot of homework to do, encourage them to read or do another mentally-stimulating activity, such as a science experiment or an art project. Setting aside this time for quiet study and educational activities now will be helpful when your child reaches high school and needs to study regularly in order to achieve academic success.

Mandate Family Quiet Time

Although it is important to spend time interacting with your children, independent play can help children develop self-sufficiency and confidence. Set aside a time each day for your children to play quietly by themselves. Having some quiet time built in to your family’s routine can also help you enjoy some time for yourself. Although parenting is probably the most important part of any father’s life, it is important that dads have an opportunity to pursue their own interests.

Schedule Time for Housekeeping and Cooking Tasks

Cleaning and cooking seem like never-ending tasks, but a housekeeping schedule can help families stay on top of the housework. Although many children resist doing chores, if the entire family works together at the same time, this can encourage children to view cleaning and cooking as cooperative family efforts.

The Right Way To Grill Fish

The Right Way To Grill FishNothing says summer like firing up the barbecue and preparing your favorite dish. If you are looking to become the grillmaster of your family, a common favorite that tastes great on the grill is fish. Grilled fish has a certain flavor and taste that is unbeatable, as long as it is cooked correctly. Follow these tips to ensure that your grilled fish becomes a fan favorite.

Choose Your Fish

The taste of fish varies depending on the type you buy, although they all follow the same basic principle while being grilled. That being said, thick fish like tuna or salmon can be grilled directly on the grill grate, while thin, delicate fish like flounder or tilapia should be wrapped in foil or placed in a grill basket to keep it from falling apart. Cooking the fish in this manner results in the same grilled taste, although you won’t get the grill marks that come from cooking directly on the grates.

Preparation

Preparation plays just as big a role as cooking in getting your fish to be perfectly grilled. Making sure you have fish that is ready for the grill and a gril that is ready for the fish will be vital in ending up with a tasty meal that your friends and family will love.

One of the biggest problems with grilling fish is that it tends to stick to the grill grates. To avoid this, make sure your fish is completely dry before you throw it on the grill. Not only will damp fish stick, but it also won’t sear well and will result in a fish that tastes more steamed than grilled. To ensure it is dry, pat it down with paper towels and then wrap it in the towels and store it in the fridge until you are ready to begin cooking.

Grill preparation is also a vital part of properly grilling the fish. It is essential to make sure your grill grates are as clean as possible before you start! Any leftover residue or crumbs from a previous meal will negatively impact the taste and appearance of your fish. If necessary, heat the grill on high and use a grill brush to remove any leftover bits prior to cooking your fish. Once the grates are clean, you can reduce the temperature to medium-high for cooking the fish. You can also choose to lightly oil the grates at this time, as this will help prevent the fish from sticking while it is cooking.

Seasoning

When the grill is prepped, take the fish out of the fridge and lightly season it. First brush the fish with oil and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. When placing the fish on the grill, place it skin-side down at a diagonal angle. This makes it easier to flip and it leaves appealing grill marks.

Cooking Guidelines

Once the fish is on the grill, cover and then leave it alone! It can be so tempting to lift the lid to check on the fish, or to flip the fish several times while cooking, but don’t do it! In order to get grilled to perfection, the fish needs to be left alone. The amount of time it will take to cook depends on the type of fish and its thickness. You can tell that it is ready to flip when the skin-side is a bit crisp and has a nice sear. It should also slide easily off the grate. After flipping the fish, simply cook it until it has reached its desired doneness. Fully-cooked fish should be firm to the touch, flake easily, and be opaque in color.

These tips and tricks are easy to follow yet they result in great tasting fish time and again. Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to perfectly grilled fish time and again.

Using a Charcoal Barbeque Grill Safely

Using a Charcoal Barbeque Grill SafelyMen And Grilling – Perfect Together
Men have always had a knack for controlling fire. It’s no surprise they are also excellent around the barbecue grill. From the earliest days of earning camping badges as campfire scouts, men learned the fine art of outdoor barbecue grilling. With this learning experience came certain safety rules men still put into practice today.

Safety Tips For Charcoal Barbecue Grilling
Using a charcoal barbecue grill safely is a matter of practicing the same type of safety tips in scouting. Remember when the scout master warned about lighting a camp fire in heavy winds? That safety tip applies to using a charcoal barbecue grill. Even if the grill has a cover, in heavier winds fly ash can be dangerous. Know how long the grilling process will take. This helps determine the correct amount of charcoal needed for grilling foods. Most recipe books contain specified cooking times for meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit. Use cooking directions as a basic guide to insure foods are cooked to doneness. However, grilled foods tend to cook more quickly because of the open flame.

Getting The Barbecue Grill Ready
Nothing is more important to grill safely than insuring the grill is properly cleaned and maintained. This means cleaning the grill before and after each use. Cooking residues build up on racks and in the base of the grill and can cause open flames to increase to unsafe levels and turn your favorite steaks or chops into charred remains. Next, use fresh charcoal spread evenly onto the rack beneath the grilling rack. Lumping charcoal in uneven piles will result in uneven grilling of foods and heat will not distribute properly. There are several types of charcoal available. Some are pre-treated with lighter fluid while others are not. Check the composition of the charcoal to insure it is free of hazardous materials.

Using Lighter Fluid To Start Your Charcoal Grill
If your charcoal is not pre-treated with lighter fluid, it will be necessary to purchase a small supply of this flammable liquid. Where protective gloves when handling lighter fluid. Soak the charcoal briquettes with the fluid. Allow a few minutes for the fluid to soak into the charcoal before igniting. Use long-stemmed matches or a barbecue lighter to start the flame. Lighter fluid has a telltale odor that pervades grilled foods. Before beginning the grilling process, allow flames to decrease until the charcoal becomes burning embers and the fluid odor is gone.

The Grilling Expert
Children love seeing Dad taking over the barbecue grilling duties. Of course, what they love even more is Dad’s fine display of cooking talents that produces delicious grilled burgers, frankfurters and steaks. Men love to be creative about their barbecue grill experience. Often, they create their own personal barbecue sauces from the most amazing array of ingredients. Or, they devise new ways to barbecue seafood and fish that result in happy memories of their old camp fire scouting days. When the roasted marshmallows appear, it’s a sure bet there’s a lot of nostalgia on the menu.

One tip for reducing meats and poultry with high fat content is to use aluminum foil wrapping on the grilling rack. This a safety feature that keeps grease from dripping onto burning charcoal and raising flames. Curl foil at the edges so it creates a rim about one-inch high. Not only is this a safety feature, but it protects the bottom of the grill from grease build-up and makes grill cleaning easier. Once grilling is complete, allow the grill to cool to touch before removing charcoal residue and cleaning begins.

Guide to Grills

Guide to GrillsIf you plan on continuing the summer tradition of outdoor grilling, it is important to know the differences between types of grills, and types of fuel sources. Knowing how the different kinds of grills work and cook will prevent an outdoor feast from becoming an overcooked mess.

Charcoal Grill-
The charcoal grill is the classic outdoor summer BBQ cooking surface. Some of the great things about charcoal grills are that they are easy to use, and add unique flavors to the food you are grilling. Charcoal is actually wood that has been heated to very high temperatures without oxygen. This gets rid of the water trapped in the wood, and allows it to burn longer without releasing large quantities of smoke. As the charcoal burns underneath the grilling surface, smoke flavors rise up and get trapped in the food giving meals cooked an a charcoal grill an outdoor, woodsy flavor. Chips of smoking woods can also be added to the grill for other flavors like hickory or mesquite. Some of the downsides to cooking with charcoal include that they take time to get started, and are a little messy to clean up. All of the ashes left in the grill have to be emptied before the next use, and that process can dirty up clothes and hands.

Gas Grill-
More recently, modern gas grills have become popular for their ease of use and convenience. Instead of prepping the grill with charcoal and lighter fluid, gas grills can be lit with the turn of a knob and the press of a button. Temperatures of different grilling areas can be also be adjusted which allows for hotter and cooler cooking surfaces across the grill. Though easier to use, gas grills require a source of fuel. One source is propane which comes in bottles and need to be refilled, and the other source is natural gas which comes from the same gas lines used by a homes oven or water heater. Gas lines can be expensive to install and propane bottles can run out in the middle of a grilling session. Both types of gas grills also lack the natural smoky flavor offered by charcoal and other methods such as the smoker grill.

Smoker Grill-
By using a smoker grill, you are guaranteed to infuse your food with a very rich, smoky flavor. Unlike other grills, charcoal is burned off to the side in a separate compartment. This allows for the hot smoke coming from the burning area to cook the food indirectly instead being directly cooked by the flame of burning fuel. This process is slow, but results in a very tender and flavorful product. A smoker grill has a very specific purpose, and can not be used for general cooking.

Electric Grill-
To skip the hassle of dealing with fuel, an electric grill offers a quick simple grilling option. All that is needed for an electric grill is a standard electrical outlet. This means that electric grill users never have to worry about running out of charcoal or gas. Electrical grills also get up to temperature quicker than gas or charcoal grills which means less time to wait around and more time for grilling. Electric grills are typically smaller than other types making them harder to cook for a large amount of people. Electric grills also lack the natural smoke flavor of charcoal based grills and smokers.

Tips for Choosing Wine for That Special Celebration

special celebration wineBad wine never ruined an otherwise great party, but many dull parties have been rescued by a spectacular bottle of wine. It’s essential to select an exceptional wine for a special celebration. While it’s not necessary to go broke buying the wine, it’s a good idea to spend as much money as possible on it. Still, there are many great bottles of wine available for less than twenty dollars. If the wine is intended to be consumed shortly after purchase, a buyer can feel confident with a less expensive bottle of quality wine.

When they are stored in the correct temperature and manner, more costly wines tend to age better because they have been processed for value and storage. However, most wine is produced to be consumed in less than 24 months. Much of it was never intended to age into full flavor. For instance, the majority of white wine is produced to be consumed shortly after bottling. Still, white wine is often the best choice for light occasions. They make for great sipping wines. They often go best with light snacks or party chat hors d’oeuvres. The German Riesling, French Chardonnay, or an Italian Pinot Grigio are all superb white wine choices for casual gatherings and cocktail parties.

If the celebration is a food-centered one, as in a special banquet or sit-down dinner, the choices become more complicated and varied. A menu planner can find a type of red or white wine to go with any kind of food. When uncertain, or when the gathering crosses lines between cocktail gathering and sit-down dinner, a Beaujolais Nouveau is a good choice. It’s a quality light red with a fruity flavor that isn’t cloying or overwhelming, so it’s not going to cling to the guest’s taste buds for long.

Blended wines like Brut and Blanc de Noir are good for the first course and dessert. To match wines with a sit-down dinner, it remains true that most white wines go amiably with fish and poultry. However, Sauvignon Blanc also goes well with Greek, vegetarian, and southern Italian cuisine. Chardonnay is a good wine for southern Italian, northern Italian, and French food. Chenin Blanc is well-suited to Japanese and Chinese food. A good, ambitious white wine choice for Chinese, Mexican, and Indian dishes would be a Gewürztraminer or Gamay. When in doubt, opt for a sparkling wine.

Where reds are concerned, Merlot is good for Italian, stews, and some meats. It’s not a bad choice for a cheese-taster and wine-chaser. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are both a good complement for heartier meats like beef and wild game. Pinot Noir is a great wine to go with turkey or duck during the winter holidays. If the menu includes ham, or any smoked meats, Vin Rosé or pink wine is a better choice. It’s good for Thai food too.

There are also clashing wines that should be remembered. For instance, a good wine list doesn’t want to pair a Merlot or Cabernet with California cuisine or Tex-Mex. Chili peppers just don’t play well with them.

So where does the big daddy of celebration wine, champagne, come in? Champagne is just a French sparkling white wine. Because of its broad use through a lot of different occasions, champagne is generally served with anything. Since champagne is the go-to beverage for weddings and many big celebrations, the question is more about choosing food to go with the drink than the reverse. Cheese, smoked salmon, ham, and most appetizers are good companions for champagne. If the menu is thick with caviar, it’s best to opt for a Brut.

The only truly perfect wine for any special celebration, however, is the one that the host and guests will enjoy. Personal preference should always win out over the unsolicited opinions of wine snobs.