July Fourth is right around the corner in my part of the world. To make the holiday crackle even more, I'm digging through decades-old family recipes, like Grandma Ethel's dandelion wine and Mama Marg's pineapple upside down cake. Read to find ingredients for summertime memories and happy tummies that will inspire you.
Hub and I begin celebrating the Fourth by decking out our porch. We're still perfecting the patriotic look for our new cottage, but memories from our old home guide us.
Much of our celebrating involves hosting or finding a cookout. It doesn't feel like a uniquely American holiday to us without clumps of folk chatting down over dogs, burgers, and brew ... nutritional values and calories all pushed aside for this day.
This year, we’ll join our new neighbors in a cul-de-sac cookout. We’re a mixed group of empty-nesters and young families, so I need to bring a dish to pass to satisfy a range of tastebuds.
My problem? Not a foodie here, even though I come from a long line of fab cooks and bakers. To get inspired, I sort through family recipes.
Grandma Ethel started collecting recipes in 1910 as part of a high-school project in Everett, Washington (Pacific Northwest, US). Grateful to my cousin, who made sure the grandchildren have copies of Grandma's hand-written notes.
The Dandelion Wine recipe surprises me. I don’t remember seeing it around when we spent summers on Grandma's farm as kids, but adults likely imbibed when we slept.
I realize wine needs time to ferment, but I am still gobsmacked at how my grand's Depression-era generation took *time* and care to prepare their food: Squeeze out blossoms and let toasted bread stand for 3 days and nights? Wow,
Guessing any dandelions we’d pick today would be swimming in chemicals. Passing on this recipe until I get a handle on organic dandelion blossoms and find a 10# pail for collecting them -:D
Poetry and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
On the other hand, I remember snorfing down Mama's to-die-for Pineapple Upside Down Cake as a kid like it was yesterday. But I can’t find her recipe (boo hoo). She was such an excellent baker, who likely made up the recipe as she went along.
Instead, I discover a similar concoction in a compilation of favorite recipes by Grandma Ethel's friends and neighbors at the Josephine Sunset Home Auxiliary in Stanwood, Washington. Published around 1976 (the USA's bicentennial birthday year), it's clear these women knew their way around kitchens.
Don't you love the added homey poetry sprinkled about in the book’s white spaces! And it's still relevant today.
I could tackle this recipe but, geez, Fumble Fingers here, wondering how I'd manage to invert the cake without smooshing it all over. Mama had the touch! She also garnished the top with pineapple slices that we kids snatched and ate when we thought she wasn't looking. Looking back, I think she knew what we were up to.
A Salad or Dessert?
I luck out recalling
one of Mama’s summertime picnic specials,
is more dessert
Do you know it?
It's super easy to throw together, refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day.
Even better topped with fresh blueberries. (Caveat…it has nuts for those with allergies.)
Only problem at our house:
Watergate Salad gets gone really FAST!!!!
Here's an easy dish even I can manage.
Berries morph into patriotic red-white-and-blues
when featured with just the right serving pieces.
What do you think about
chocolate dipping sauce
on the side
for that extra yum?
I’m off to market to stock up on Fourth Food for the 'hood cookout. What family recipes do you cherish? What's your never-fail summertime fare? Please share in the comment section.
Have a safe and happy Fourth y'all! Sending virtual hot dogs slathered with all the trimmings to everyone. And maybe a virtual cup of Grandma's wine, if I can master the dandelions by then <wink>.
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