For years now, missing the 4th of July fireworks has made me feel as if I’ve missed the summer.
4th of July’s of the past
As a child, after our mother married our step father, we were no longer allowed to go to see fireworks or parades on the 4th of July.
My brother could visit a carnival if a friend trusted by our parents (parents being mother and step father, our father had no say in anything) invited him but I could not.
Our step father, John, always said that carnivals were not for girls.
Magical memories of the 4th of July
But, before that point, I had such great memories of my brother and I going with our father to the Whiteford Carnival and Delta parades (they threw candy and it was just so magical), that I wanted to share that with my own son, Joshua.
Things don’t always work out as planned
Once Josh was old enough that I thought he’d enjoy a parade and fireworks, I planned with my husband, his father, to take him.
I wanted to share this magical experience with him but it turned out to be a horrible experience. Hopefully, he doesn’t even remember it…
His father and I took him to our local parade. It was crowded and hot. We waited what seemed like hours for the parade to come by and once it finally did, there was none of the fun things that I remembered and most disappointingly, not 1 single piece of candy was thrown!
We moved from the parade roads to the fireworks grounds were my mother in-law joined us. Again, it was crowded and hot.
She was angry because Josh wanted the fun things, like bubble makers and light-up stuff but we didn’t have any money to buy him things and she would not.
Once the fireworks started, Josh just screamed non-stop in terror.
I wanted to leave with him but my mother in-law would not let me. She was such a scary lady and being young myself and taught to always do as my elders told me, I could not disobey her.
So, I helped him to cover his ears and tried to sooth him but I also decided, never again would I take him or allow him to be taken to fireworks until he was old enough to ask me to take him because there was nothing magical about this experience!
So, every July 4th after that, my husband went to the fireworks and Josh and I stayed home were it was quiet and happy!
Many years later…
Many years later, after my husband and I divorced and Josh started doing things with friends on the 4th of July, I revisited those parades and carnivals of my youth because a friend lived in the same town and told me that they hadn’t changed.
As I discovered more about myself, I realized that if I didn’t go to watch fireworks somewhere, I felt bereft, as if I had missed out on summer and my favorite place to watch fireworks became any beach that I could put my toes in sand!
I usually went to my favorite local beach, Rehobeth Beach.
However, my number one place to watch is in Magic Kingdom, although I only had that opportunity once.
Nowadays, things have changed a little
I’ve been with Jason for six years now and he doesn’t like to go out on the 4th of July, so we usually stay home and that’s fine.
This year, we’ve been talking about the possibility of going out to see fireworks but we haven’t decided yet, so I thought I’d look up some potential 4th of July celebration recipes and share them with you.
Watermelon, olive and Feta salad
My all time favorite summer salad is Watermelon, olive and Feta salad.
Here’s a very good Watermelon Salad Recipe by Nigella. I started with this recipe and changed it to more suit our tastes and my food allergies. Feel free to try it either way!
My changes are:
Remove onion, limes, parsley, mint, olive oil, black olives and black pepper from the recipe.
Most of the time, Jason is in charge of making our dinner salads but occasionally, I make this one myself.
I can not get enough of this salad!
Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad
(Use 1 mini watermelon per approx 2 to 4 adults)
watermelon, well ripened
optional: course ground sea salt
feta cheese (about a 1″ cube per person)
fresh mint sprigs or leaves for garnish
1) Remove the rind and any black seeds from the watermelon and cut into bite sized cubes.
2) Remove the feta cheese from it’s brine and cut into bite sized cubes or crumble.
3)Put your watermelon into a serving bowl or individual bowls.
Optionally, sprinkle 1 or 2 pinches of course ground sea salt over watermelon.
4)Top watermelon with feta cheese and add olives.
5) Decoratively drizzle balsamic glaze over salad
6) Garnish with sprigs or leaves of fresh mint.
Ideally, use a well ripened, sweet watermelon. However. If your watermelon is lacking in flavor, a sprinkle or 2 of course-ground sea salt will bring out the flavor but, BE CAREFUL! Feta cheese is very salty, so be careful not to over-salt your watermelon!
Use a good brand of pitted Kalamata olives. Warning: not all Kalamata olives taste the same! It is best to taste-test to make sure you like the flavor. Wegmans and Whole Foods usually has good Kalamata Olives at their Olive Bar.
Use a high quality Feta Cheese. We use Pastures of Eden Feta Cheese. This Feta is the best we’ve ever tasted and it is well worth the price! Look for it at Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.
Balsamic Glaze makes a great dressing for watermelon salad. We use Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze.
For the finishing touch, garnish with a little sprig of fresh mint or a few fresh mint leaves.
If you are feeling extra industrious, you could slice the watermelon and use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut it into stars!
Since there are so few ingredients in this salad, it’s important that each ingredient tastes great so, be sure to buy high quality, good tasting ingredients!
Red White and Blue Fruit Salad
My next recommendation is Red White and Blue Fruit Salad. Here is the link to the original recipe by Eating on a Dime: https://www.eatingonadime.com/red-white-and-blue-fruit-salad/
If you are like me and do not like honey, try making Jason’s Lemon Curd Dressing instead of the Honey and Lime Dressing…
Lemon Curd Dressing
Use a good quality Lemon Curd. I recommend Dickinson’s Lemon Curd, place a few tablespoons of Lemon curd in a bowl, add water a teaspoon at a time and whisk. You can find Dickinson’s Lemon Curd at some Giant Foods and some Safeways. You can also buy it online.
You want to use enough water to create the consistency of a pourable sauce. Put the sauce in a small cream pitcher and refrigerate until ready to use. Once ready to use, dish up salad and drizzle with sauce. Optionally, garnish with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Homemade whipped cream
To make homemade whipped cream that will wow your friends and family, start with a high quality, grass fed, heavy whipping cream.
I taste tested a number of whipping creams and the best tasting one, in my opinion, is Natural By Nature Grass Fed Heavy Whipping Cream. You can find Natural By Nature Grass Fed Heavy Whipping Cream at Whole Foods.
Pour about half of the cream into a large bowl, slowly add Dominos Super Fine Sugar and hand whisk or beat with an electric hand mixer. You want your whipped cream to be only faintly sweet because the cream is the star, not the sugar.
Start with approximately 1 tsp of sugar. Whip until the liquid looks like it is starting to thicken and taste. If needed add a touch more super fine sugar and continue to whip until peaks begin to form. Take one more taste, if more sugar is needed, add a little more and beat only enough to incorporate the sugar. Using a spoon, test the consistency of your whipped cream. Can you drop dollops of cream or is it still too liquidity? If it is still too liquidity, continue to beat and test until it is just right!
Please buy only meats and eggs with the “Certified Humane” label.
Here’s my favorite barbecued Chicken recipe!
I use Fody Foods Barbecue Sauce. It is absolutely delicious and has no onion or garlic!
Here’s the original chicken recipe by Bowl of Delicious:
The only changes I make to this recipe are, instead of simply coating the chicken in olive oil, I marinade the chicken in a high quality olive oil. My favorite is Paesanol Organic Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil and in this case, I do not use any salt on the chicken because, as much as I love salt, I do not like extra salt added to barbecue sauce.
My favorite Olive Oil
My favorite Olive Oil is Paesanol Organic Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It comes in a Glass bottle and you can find it at Whole Foods.
This Olive oil gives my husband sticker shock and he complains every time I buy it but he has to admit that it tastes great! And, I often catch him using it, even though his less expensive, less tasty olive oil is available and just as handy!
For recipes that need a great tasting olive oil, this is the one!
Hamburgers and Hot dogs
And finally, no 4th of July could not be complete without Hamburgers and Hot dogs!
If you do not want to fire up the grill, try this method of cooking your hot dogs!
First, boil your hot dogs until they expand and begin to split on the ends. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan or skillet and add approximately 1 tsp to 1 TBS butter. Remove hot dogs from water and split open long ways, so that they open like a hot dog roll or a book.
Open the hot dogs and place in a buttery pan, face down. Cook hot dogs, turning occasionly, until crispy and skin begins to blister.
Place on hot dogs rolls, top with a thin line of ketchup, a thin line of yellow mustard, a thin line of sweet pickle relish and a spoonful of baked beans! Repeat the baked beans before each bite of hot dog!
I use canned baked beans, just like my mother taught me. That is, take your favorite brand of baked beans, I prefer Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans and add 1 TBS of ketchup, a little less than 1 TBS of traditional yellow mustard and 1 or 2 TBS of light brown sugar.
If it looks too yellow, add a little more ketchup.
Begin to heat the beans and sauce and take a taste of the sauce. If it’s not “just right”, add a little more of whatever is missing. Once it tastes just right, I bring it to a boil and then let the beans and sauce simmer until everything is ready.
Lastly, I will share my bacon cheese burger recipe with you!
Note: I cook the bacon in the oven because there is less spitting and turning. However, the bacon gets crisper if it is out of the drippings.
To keep the bacon out of the drippings, I cover a baking sheet with foil, add a rack (such as a metal cookie cooling rack) and lay the bacon out flat on the rack.
Generally, regular thickness bacon will take about 20 minutes to cook. Thinner sliced bacon may cook much faster.
Flip the bacon after about the first 8-10 minutes and after that check the bacon to see if it needs flipped every 5-8 minutes.
If the bacon begins to spit, you can drain the liquid fat away or use a fork to carefully lift the rack and sop-up the fat with paper towels.
I’ve had some trouble finding the Spicy pickles or spicy green tomatoes lately but
Sucker Punch brand makes a good spicy pickle. McCutchens used to make a good spicy green tomato but I haven’t been able to find them for quite some time now.
Instant-read thermometer: I use one like this, Kitchen Aid Analog Instant-Read Thermometer, https://a.co/d/7Neya24. Mine is actually Pampered Chef but it seems that it’s been discontinued.
I hope you have a great 4th!
If you try any of the recipes, please let me know!