First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

We’ve had our first glimpse of warmer weather in Oregon, with a few weeks of amazing sunshine. We’ve already had a taste of dining alfresco, with our first barbecue of the season! Charcoal barbecuing, that is.

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It takes effort to get the outdoor area ready for spring and summer entertaining. I usually take everything off of our patio, blow it or spray it down, and then clean and put everything back. This season we turned our furniture outward to enjoy the yard, pool, and garden area.

10 tips & tools for Charcoal BBQ | Reluctant Entertainer

We still use charcoal for barbecuing, and my husband takes care of getting it ready for the upcoming barbecue season. We use the CharGriller 1224 Smokin’ Pro Charcoal Grill and Smoker (long name, I know).

By the way, why charcoal over “easy” grilling? We just love the flavor that charcoal gives the food, an extra punch of flavor, and there’s just something about the time involved in slower-barbecuing, that makes us really appreciate the meal.

And the guests appreciate the flavor, too.

My hubby is the barbecue-extraordinaire, not me. I know how to get the coals started in the chimneys, but after that, I let him take charge.

Grilled Onions.

Grilled Onions

And Mushrooms.

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

And the amazing salmon. Here’s the recipe for the marinade for the salmon.

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

Our first barbecue this year involved salmon, grilled onions, green beans, mushrooms and I threw some sweet potatoes in the oven. So fresh, and a perfect meal to serve for our first alfresco meal of the season!

And, did I mention – our sons were home for college? Perfect timing, boys!

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

Since we love charcoal, I’m going to share our tools and tips that make barbecuing a breeze.

10 Essential Tools and Tips for Successful Charcoal Barbecuing

1. Barbecue: research and buy a barbecue grill that fits your needs. There are many different styles, sizes, and extra features.

2. Charcoal: we stock up at Costco every year with several bags and store the briquettes in big tubs (sealed) out by the barbecue.

3. Chimneys: at least (2) chimneys for the coals. If you are barbecuing a lot of food, you’ll definitely want to use 2.

4. Grilling baskets: several sized grilling baskets. Perfect for veggies and potatoes.

5. Lighter: usually keep several by the barbecue, as we use for lighting candles, too.

6. Tongs: at least one large set of tongs is essential for flipping the meat and food items.

7. Large spatula: we keep at least one over-sized spatula handy for flipping large pieces of meat.

8. Reusable paper grocery bags: we keep these on hand for starting the coals.

9. Olive oil and old kitchen towel: these items are used to rub down the grill before starting the BBQ process.

10. Fresh herbs: we keep a cup or canning jar nearby with fresh sprigs of rosemary to either throw on the coals or garnish the meat/food with.

Here was my Instagram picture of our dinner that night! Tasty! (Are you following me on Instagram? SandyCoughlinRE is how you can find me!)

1st BBQ of year |

Alfresco dining with barbecued food is probably my favorite way to entertain!

You can really make it the perfect spot for relaxing with friends!

If you’re planning on entertaining, how’s your outdoor space looking? And your grilling space and essential tools to barbecue?

Summer Barbecue

I also wanted to let you know I’m posting over at now as their Entertaining Expert. Fun, huh? You may have seen the “Answers logo” on my sidebar. I have some great posts coming up, but for BBQ season, here’s one I wrote How to Plan a Successful Summer Barbecue. Head over and check it out if you have a minute … I appreciate your support!