Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) youth and adults alike,

Yes I know I'm cute but could you please stop looking at me? I've got a home to build!

Yes I know I’m cute but could you please stop looking at me? I’ve got a home to build!

Quick: how much wood could a squirrel chuck if a squirrel could chuck wood? A little tongue-twister to start a blog post is always a sure-fire winner. What does a squirrel and chucking wood have to do with an All-American BBQ? Well alot actually if you were with us earlier this evening. As a pair of mentors were getting the kitchen set-up for a smashing dinner feast, a guest visiting the ISGL noticed something strangely exciting. High up in a tree outside the building, a young squirrel was busy at work chucking wood from a tree. Why was this young buck working so tirelessly? It turns out he/she was trying to build a nest/home! Subhan Allah this tiny creature provided an important lesson to our young brothers that indeed Allah, azza wa jal, is Ar-Razzaq – the One Who Sustains and Nourishes His creation. How often have we enjoyed walking into the entrance of our home without taking a second to thank Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, for blessing us with such a sound, safe structure? Probably not too often. Take a moment next time you walk into your house to give a quick shout out and thank you to Allah for blessing you with that awesome home!

After the exciting National Geographic moment with our neighborhood squirrel, it was time for our young men to run downstairs, wash their hands (sanitation is always important when it comes to food safety!), and find out their tasks for the evening. Every semester, our mentors like to give our youth a chance to learn how to prepare an exciting culinary meal from a certain region of the world. It gives our youth an opportunity to broaden their appreciation for different flavor profiles while also teaching them a dish to impress their family members at home with. What is more appropriate in the good ol’ U.S. of A in the summer months then an old-fashioned All-American BBQ? Sadly rain forced our grills to take cover but this would not deter our excited, hungry young men. We fired up a kitchen-friendly electric grill and let the grill warm up to just the right temperature. As we waited, teams took turns preparing a secret family recipe potato salad and cheesing some elbow macaroni for mac-and-cheese. Once the grill started to pop, hot dogs were laid down to cook. After an 8-10 minute bath in oozing grease, juicy meat was finally ready to be served. Our youth were then given a chance to prepare the most amazing hot dog ever after being provided with a host of delicious condiments, veggies, and tasty toppings. An esteemed panel of culinary experts then voted for the top three most delicious and creative hot dog concoctions before we all sat down for a well-deserved homey dinner. Don’t believe we were able to accomplish so much in one night. Well we have pictures to prove we’re telling the truth:

Mujtaba and Murtaza peel and clean our chicken. Sanitation is the key to good food!

Mujtaba and Murtaza peel and clean our chicken. Sanitation is the key to good food!

Basim cuts peppers under the watchful eye of Nabeel. Wait, who gave Basim a knife!

Basim cuts peppers under the watchful eye of Nabeel. Wait, who gave Basim a knife!

Meanwhile Tassawar frantically reads the directions for making mac-and-cheese as Adil tries to calm down an excited Nurideen. WE WANT CHEESSEEEE!!!

Meanwhile Tassawar frantically reads the directions for making mac-and-cheese as Adil tries to calm down an excited Nurideen. WE WANT CHEESSEEEE!!!

Mustafa measures olive oil for our chicken marination mix...

Mustafa measures olive oil for our chicken marination mix…

...then Raad gets to work mixing all the spices together. Something smells gooood!

…then Raad gets to work mixing all the spices together. Something smells gooood!

Murtaza, Raad, and Mustafa turn their attention to grilling hot dogs. How many can we fit on one grill?

Murtaza, Raad, and Mustafa turn their attention to grilling hot dogs. How many can we fit on one grill?

Abdur Rahman presents his hot dog to our surprised panel of culinary experts!

Abdur Rahman presents his hot dog to our surprised panel of culinary experts!

Murtaza turns his head away as Tassawar begins to dissect the skillfully constructed fire dog.

Murtaza turns his head away as Tassawar begins to dissect the skillfully constructed fire dog. It’s okay buddy, don’t cry!

Raad and Nabeel enjoy a light moment at dinner while Shujath digs in.

Raad and Nabeel enjoy a light moment at dinner while Shujath digs in.

Ummmmm delicious tandoori chicken!

Ummmmm delicious tandoori chicken!

Yummmm creamy macaroni and cheese!

Yummmm creamy macaroni and cheese!

Salah's secret family potato salad.

Salah’s secret family potato salad.

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