Fourth of July celebrations are on my mind and not just because of this blog. I tend to obsess when it comes to menu and food planning, so I’ve been thinking about what I’ll make for at least a month. Our celebration is a pot luck and I’ve agreed to bring dessert. I’m still deciding what to bring, but hope that a trip to the farmers market tomorrow will yield especially good peaches or berries to incorporate into my contribution.
Are you organizing or contributing to a holiday pot luck/picnic/barbecue/feast? If you are, here are a few tips and suggestions.
July 4th Menu Ideas:
- French-style baguette and crackers
- Cut up veggies
- Basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese
- Roasted cauliflower and cumin dip
- Hamburgers or chicken shish kebab for meat lovers and grilled portellabello mushroom burgers for vegetarians if it’s a barbecue
- Cold fried or grilled chicken for meat lovers and room temperature roasted vegetables for vegetarians if there is you aren't grilling on-site
- Potato salad
- Cole slaw with mayonnaise
- Cole slaw without mayonaise
- Tomato and green pepper salad (Greek salad)
- Cous cous salad
- Cucumber salads
- Ice water
- Iced tea
- Arnold Palmers
- Other? (Beer, wine, etc)
- Citrus ginger loaf cake with fruit salad on the side
- Banana bread
- Fruit parfaits (if not traveling) served in tall plastic cups
July 4th Party Tips
- Plan to do the party food purchasing and preparation over 2-3 days, so you are not rushing and feeling overwhelmed at the last minute.
- Make salads and other fresh items ahead of time, storing their components separately and putting them together at the last minute. For example, wash and store the lettuce for a tossed salad in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container with a paper towel to absorb moisture, packing the cut-up salad veggies in another bag or container. If you’re really a stickler (as I am), you can store cut tomatoes and other juicy items separately from carrots, celery, and other dry ingredients. Nuts and seeds for salad are best kept separately and sprinkled on just before serving. Of course, a few salads, like Doris Mitnick's potato salad and my mom's health salad version of cole slaw, really need to marinate for a day or so, and should be mixed earlier.
- Desserts without frosting work best if you need to transport them (unless you have a good carrying container) or if you are going to eat outside. Whipped or pastry cream isn’t a good bet in the heat and chocolate chips (even in cookies) also tend to melt. Loaf cakes and bars work well, as do many types of cookies, such as snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, and chocolate cookies where the chocolate is part of the dough and not in bits or chips.
- When outside, keep foods in a cooler with ice packs until the last minute, epecially if they contain meat (including poultry), mayonnaise, or eggs. Food spoilage is no laughing matter - you don’t want anyone to end the day in the emergency room, or “riding the porcelain bus.”
- If you need ice for picnic drinks, put cubes in several gallon freezer bags and use them as ice packs in the cooler; then you can open the bags for the clean ice ready to put in drinks.
- Keep hydrated. On hot days, even if you are not active, drink plenty of water and don’t overindulge when it comes to alcohol or sugary drinks. For a change of pace, add lemon or lime slices to water, or combine seltzer and orange juice for a light fruit drink.
And above all, enjoy the preparation and the real reason you are planning, shopping and cooking – to create a wonderful occasion with family and friends!