Here's how to enjoy great food and still have time to lounge by the ocean: Prep some of the food at home, and carry it to the beach with you. Make our flavored mayonnaises, shrimp barbecue sauce, and dressing ahead of time, put them in containers with snug lids, chill, and pack them in a cooler. The process couldn't be simpler.
When you get to the coast, your favorite seafood market will have fresh shrimp and fish fillets to use in these recipes. (One of our favorites, Goatfeathers II in Seagrove Beach, Florida, even sells creamy house-made crab dip, just right for an afternoon snack with crackers.)
So set out your chair and umbrella, slather on the sunscreen, and choose your favorite book. Then settle down for a relaxing weekend.
Pack It Right
Taking food you've prepared at home to the beach is a great idea--as long as you keep it properly chilled on the journey. Food needs to be kept colder than 40° to prevent bacteria from growing. Here are some tips for maintaining the proper temperature.
• Pack food snugly in a well-insulated cooler with a secure lid. This should be your last chore before leaving the house. Do not open the cooler until you're ready to unpack it. Keep cold drinks and snacks for the trip in a separate cooler.
• If possible, store the cooler in an air-conditioned area of the car rather than the trunk.
• Make sure all the food is cold when it goes into the cooler. If any of the items you're transporting can be frozen, put them in the cooler that way. They'll help keep the other food cold.
• Ice is terrific for keeping things really cold, but as it melts, it can seep into containers. Ice packs (also called gel packs or Blue Ice) are good alternatives.
"Summer Living: Casual at the Beach" is from the July 2006 issue of Southern Living.