So Many Things that June Brings in Marshall, Illinois

Summer fun is in full swing now and Marshall, with its unique charm and vibrant community, is always a great place to live and play. The Solstice was on June 20th, marking the earliest Summer solstice in 228 years. It seems like summer arrived early but like every Solstice it was the longest day of the year. Now, slowly we will lose hours of daylight each day. Sunset will be a little sooner each evening as the summer wears on so enjoy the long lingering days while they last.

We experienced Father’s Day this month, and hopefully, dear old Dad had a lovely, chore-free day where he got to be king of the castle. We saw a beautiful Strawberry Moon, also known as the hatching or birth moon, and the summer strawberries are sweeter than ever. The summer blooms are fragrant, filling the night air with the smells of jasmine and the warm days with the scent of the beautiful mimosa trees found in many of the yards in Marshall. Just follow the sweet smell if you want to see one in full bloom.

The community pool is in full swing, the local parks are filled with people taking camping vacations, and our locals are taking “staycations.” Why go anywhere when you live somewhere as lovely as Marshall, Illinois? But if you’re bored while tanning or taking a break in the shade, it may be time to get a new book to read. Summer is a big time for new and fun books and publishers release the “summer reads” that are anticipated by book enthusiasts coming from their favorite authors. From mysteries to romance, sci-fi to fantasy and of course all the new memoirs, there is something for everyone coming out in time for relaxing on your vacation with a good book. Check the local library for new releases or have one sent to you from Amazon or Barnes & Noble online. Don’t forget to also check out the local events and activities happening in our community, they are a great way to stay engaged and have fun this summer.

 

Making the most out of picnics and camping meals:

If you are taking your book out to the lake or planning to camp or cookout, there are some important safety measures to remember. Your food should not only be tasty but also safe to eat. Cold foods need to stay cold, and hot foods hot, of course. Hot and cold food can stay safe and ready to eat for a couple of hours in insulated containers that are meant for this specific purpose but keep the food cold right up until it goes on the grill. You can even freeze the meat or fish you plan to cook before you put it in the cooler and head to the lake. If you catch your own fish, get it on the grill as soon as it’s cleaned or get it on ice right away. Use larger blocks of ice or ice packs rather than cubes or crushed ice. Things will stay cooler with those and therefore safer. No one wants to get food poisoning while camping or having a nice day picnicking at Lincoln Trail State Park or Mill Creek Lake and Park.

Marinate those steaks and burgers, or get the dry rub on the wings in advance to make them super tasty when they hit the grill. Bring clean, plastic, food-grade containers for the leftovers, too. Never cross-contaminate your meats or fish with your veggies. Veggies, especially corn or potatoes, may not need to be kept in a cooler. Fruit can spoil if not in a cooler, but it’s best to keep it in its own cooler or in Ziploc bags. Remember that air is the enemy of keeping food fresh, so get as much air out of the bags and keep the coolers closed tight other than when you are removing food or putting leftovers away.

Wash your hands before you touch food and again after cooking. Gloves are a good idea, too. Make sure you clean all surfaces after they have been touched by raw meat, or you can have cross-contamination. Sure, you may be cooking in the great outdoors, and the kitchen sink won’t be handy, but you can make a handwashing station by putting hot water into an insulated drink cooler and bringing some liquid soap and paper towels.

Get yourself a meat thermometer if you want to be sure that your meat is cooked correctly. Raw or undercooked chicken and pork, especially, can get someone very sick if consumed. The last thing you want is one of your family members or friends to be sick when you are away from home for the day or on a camping adventure. Keep everyone safe by keeping your campsite, your cooking utensils, your hands clean, and your food at proper temperatures.

Keep having a safe and fun Marshall summer, and let’s prepare for the July 4th celebrations.