Warm weather and a holiday are the perfect ingredients for an outdoor gathering.
On Memorial Day, you can set the standard for the summer season by using new time-saving gadgets to prepare outdoor foods that are lighter and healthier.
Some new items on the market that will make outdoor grilling easier are the FlameDisk, the EZ Grill and the Grill Plate.
The FlameDisk uses solidified ethanol to produce a clean-burning cooking flame that is designed for use in any grill and lights instantly. It lasts about 45 minutes, and when finished, the FlameDisk is immediately cool to the touch and can be recycled. Here's how it works: Just set it in the bottom of the grill, peel the lid, and light the FlameDisk with a match. It costs less than $20 at Amazon.com or at www.flamedisk.com.
The EZ Grill is a disposable instant grill in a box that's easy to carry to the park or riverbank. To use, simply shake the grill to evenly distribute the charcoal. Place the grill on the metal stand so it is elevated off the surface. (Do not use on any surface that is flammable or can be heat damaged.)
Light the corner of the starter sheet and let it burn for 15 minutes, letting the flames die down. After cooking, extinguish the hot coals with water, sand or dirt. The cost is $4.99 for the regular size or $9.99 for the party size. It's available at nationwide retailers or at www.ezgrill.com.
If you don't want to heat up the kitchen making summertime side dishes, you can bake a casserole on your gas grill with the Grill Plate. The plate's double-layer V-bottom construction deflects heat from the burners up and around whatever you are baking. That creates the same convection effect found in conventional ovens. In the center of the plate, a 1-inch air gap provides insulation to prevent burning the bottom of the dish. The grill plate also can be used in indoor gas or electric ovens to create a convection effect. Retail price for the Grill Innovations Grill Plate is $89.95. Go to www.grillinnovations.com.