Sept. 1, the gateway to fall and the look back at summer. Thankfully, the temperature has dropped from the highs of August, but most of us plan one more hot-weather fling over the upcoming Labor Day weekend, whether it be a beach jaunt or just a backyard barbecue. These books are in tune with that.

"Porch Parties for Outdoor Entertaining: Cocktail Recipes and Easy Ideas." We're all about porches in Charleston, even though downtown we call them piazzas. But decks will do as well, as will docks, for outdoor relaxing. Former Southern Living writer Denise Gee serves up cool cocktails with spirits and without, nibbles and good tips on how one can fancy things up when needed. I suspect there will be many an occasion this weekend to put some of these to use. Hardcover. Chronicle Books. $16.95.

"Big Book of BBQ: Recipes and Revelations From the Barbecue Belt." This book is so full of good stuff it's like a pig about to pop: stories, pictures, state-by-state recommendations of the best places to get your 'cue and recipes for everything from smoked trout to pork butt,plus the fixings. Great fun to use -- and a super house gift for like-minded friends.

In case you'd rather do takeout, the S.C. picks are the Aiken Brewing Co., Jackie Hite's Barbecue in Batesburg-Leesville, Shealy's Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville, Big T Bar-B-Que in Columbia, The Pink Pig in Hardeeville, and Bessinger's on Savannah Highway right here in Charleston.

From the Editors at Southern Living. Semi-hard cover. Oxmoor House. $24.95.

"The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook." Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh is an award-winning authority on Texas and Tex-Mex cuisine. Here he dishes up almost as much history as food, but all comes out tasty. Should you care to spice up your Labor Day menu, Walsh is the man to turn to. Paperback. Broadway Books. $18.

Marion Sullivan is a culinary programs specialist at the Culinary Institute of Charleston. Send your questions to