Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jungle Reds Picnic: July 4 Pot Luck!

HALLIE EPHRON: Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Our tradition each July 4 is a day trip to my friend Pat's summer house on Long
Pond in Plymouth, MA. They've turned what was once the infirmary of a Girl Scout camp into a cozy one-bedroom cottage with a gigantic front porch.

We arrive after the crack-of-dawn flag raising and reading of the Declaration of Independence. We swim, feast on lobsters and corn and tomatoes, enjoy Pat & Joe's hoards of children and grandchildren (photo). Party poopers that we are, we drive home
just at sunset and, as we drive, enjoy the fireworks going off on either side of the highway.

Today I'm inviting the Reds and all of our readers to a July 4 pot luck! I'm bringing my friend Pat's blueberry pie. (Scroll to the bottom for recipes!)

What are you bringing?

My family would often gather with my mother's two sisters for holidays. Aunt Barbara was usually in charge of the potato salad at our summer celebrations. She had to make several kinds, because someone wouldn't eat onions and I wouldn't eat eggs and so on...(These were NOT allergies--they were preferences. She was more accommodating than I would be:)

But last year I started to think about those hard-boiled eggs--why shouldn't they be a main ingredient? What if I left out all the fancy stuff--the onions, the celery, the pickles, the peppers, the capers--and went back to something basic?

HALLIE: You left out the EGGS from the potato salad?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Proving how old I am, back at home we had sparklers. We would bend the ends, light them, and spin

If someone did that at our house today, I would swoop down on them with the garden hose.

Now we have a new tradition, which is lobsters, and grilled corn, and chilled rose. The kids play in the pool and eat hot dogs, because that is all they eat, but all good. We have strawberry shortcake and watch the local fireworks, which you can see, pretty much, from our back yard. Then listen to the Boston Pops on TV and sing along, while patting ourselves on the back that we are not in all the 4th of July traffic.

(Even writing this makes me realize how lucky we are.)

I have a FABULOUS Brussels sprouts salad, but I won't make it. I'll tell you for Thanksgiving.
Sure, I have a recipe.

Love you all madly.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie and Hank, your 4ths sound fab!  We are so boring. We stay home, grill burgers (I do make a mean burger!) and fresh corn, with fresh farm tomatoes and cole (cold!) slaw, and watermelon.

This slaw is garlicy and not too sweet, with an unexpected kick from the nutmeg. I found the recipe years ago in a newspaper somewhere and have been making it ever since. This year, with the new ice cream maker, I think maybe we'll add homemade vanilla--maybe even root beer floats! Or maybe Hallie's blueberry pie!

I like to watch the Boston Pops, then sometimes we'll drive someplace where we can see the fireworks without getting in traffic.

Hank, we always did sparklers when I was a kid. Loved them! But no kids in the family now, so no excuse:-) (Grown kids are going to the lake...)

RHYS BOWEN: Oh Hank, I used to love sparklers on our Guy Fawkes Night which is when we had fireworks.

Of course, being a Brit, I'm not supposed to celebrate the Fourth, am I? But we always do. We often go to nearby Sonoma where my daughter has a swim center and her swim team marches in the parade. But grilling lobster on a dock sounds so much better! I think your holidays must be more civilized on the East Coast! We do usually go to friends whose house has a fabulous view over San Francisco Bay to watch fireworks from their deck. Everyone brings potluck items and I'm trying to remember if I bring anything special.  John makes a mean stuffed egg.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Our Independence Day tradition is to head up to Portland's Munjoy Hill for a barbeque hosted by children's book author Gail Donovan and her husband. Munjoy Hill backs up to the Eastern Prom, where the Portland Symphony Orchestra plays a free concert and there are, of course, fireworks. The great thing about having friends who live on the hill? The city closes all roads in and out of the Prom at 3:30 in the afternoon, so if you can't park up close before then, you have a long walk back to the car after the fireworks.

The PSO begins to play as dusk falls over Casco Bay, and then the fireworks explode right at the height of The 1812 Overture. Scores of people watch from boats on the water. It's magical, and one of the many times I feel so grateful to live in Maine.

I got some lovely Napa cabbage and fresh cilantro in my CSA this week, so I'm bringing an Asian-themed slaw to the party.


From Hallie, Pat's Blueberry PieTwo 9" pie crusts - I pre-bake the bottom crust for about 10 minutes
Filling: Mix 4 c blueberries (rinsed and picked over) with 3/4-1 cup sugar, 3T flour, 1/2 tsp lemon peel (ESSENTIAL), 1/2 tsp cinnamon, dash of salt
Put the filling in the bottom crust; sprinkle w/1 tsp of lemon juice and dot with butter
Seal the top crust and cut slits in it. Brush on some beaten egg for shiny glazed.
Bake @400 for 35-40 minutes
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, of course
From Lucy, No-eggs Potato Salad6 medium red potatoes
2 eggs
Heaping tablespoon of fresh dill
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 heaping Tbsp Hellmann's mayonnaise (I used the kind with olive oil)

Wash the potatoes, cut out any unappealing spots, and cut them in half or quarters, depending on size. Boil them gently until they are soft. Cut them into slices when cool. In another pan, boil the eggs about ten minutes and let them cool in the hot water. Stir together the oil and vinegar and dill and marinate the warm potatoes in this mixture. Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients--the celery seed, celery salt, mustard, and mayo, and add fresh black pepper to taste.
Slice the eggs and add them to the potatoes. Fold the mayo mixture into the potatoes and eggs and taste to correct the seasoning. Serve in a pretty bowl with grilled anything! Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday weekend with all your favorite relatives and friends-- and food!

From Hank, Fresh Corn with Lemon Butter

Get fresh corn.
Take the husks off.
Put the on hot charcoal coals.
Turn turn turn, then steam with the cover on for two minutes.
Stall until the lobsters are done.
Pour lemon butter and pepper over everything.

From Rhys, stuffed eggs
Hard boil eggs. Peel.
Cut in half, remove yolks.
Mash yoke with mayonnaise
add a touch of horseradish AND Reece's pepper jelly
when smoothly blended stuff back into egg whites
sprinkle with chopped parsley
Arrange on egg dish.

From Deb, Garlic and Nutmeg Cole Slaw
In a medium bowl whisk together:
1/2 cup mayo (I use Hellman's with Olive Oil)
1/8 cup sugar (I use unrefined)
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Chop or shred 1/2 head fresh cabbage, add to dressing and stir well to combine. Refrigerate covered for about an hour to blend flavors.

From Julia, Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw

1/4 c rice vinegar 
2t sugar
1t fresh grated ginger or 1T powdered
2T sesame oil
1 fresh chili, serrano or jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 small head of Napa cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch slices
1 carrot, grated (this is for color, so you could also substitute re and yellow peppers, etc.)
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil and hot pepper together with a dash of salt. Add remaining ingredients, toss to blend. Let sit to develop flavor.


  1. Happy July Fourth!
    Our celebration is generally a quiet one; local parade in the morning, barbeque, fireworks over the lake . . . .
    Often we'll catch the late broadcast of the Macy's fireworks which are always spectacular, even when watching on the television.

  2. Here’s one of our favorite picnic recipes:
    Bacon Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.

    In a 10-inch cast iron skillet:
    Cook 4-6 slices thick bacon until crisp; remove, crumble, and set aside
    Leave 2 tablespoons drippings in the skillet, reserve remaining drippings
    Place skillet in oven to heat

    Stir together 3/4 cups sifted flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon baking powder
    Add 1-1/4 cups yellow or white cornmeal
    Beat 2 eggs, beat in 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, 1 cup milk
    Stir into flour mixture with a few strokes
    Fold in crumbled bacon, 3/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

    Carefully pour batter into heated skillet
    Bake 25-30 minutes.

  3. Marianne in MaineJuly 4, 2015 at 7:43 AM

    Happy Birthday, America!

    Family celebrations when I was a child also involved sparklers and fireworks at night. Then it was the Boston Pops on the Esplanade, And fireworks. And the 1812 Overture.

    Now, I'm sorry to say, fireworks are legal in Maine and anyone can set them off in their backyard. It's annoying and dangerous. We still watch the Pops and 1812 Overture (online unfortunately) but it's not the same as being there. But you're right, Hank, it's great not having to fight the traffic. Today I'm spending time as a docent at an antique car and plane museum then lobsters! After Wimbledon.

    To add to the picnic, I bought mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes yesterday for a caprese salad. Two thirds of the red, white, and blue.

  4. I want those heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella... yum.
    And Joan, that cornbread sounds fanTAStic! Love cornbread, esp cooked in cast iron skillet so it gets crispy all around. And bacon, well what is life without bacon?

  5. OOhhh this all sounds amazing! The cornbread and tomato/mozz are fabulous additions! Hope you each have a wonderful weekend! xoxo Lucy

  6. Stuck solo in NYC due to a snafu while the rest of the family is up in Rhode Island — and feeling a wee bit sorry for myself.... Um, I think there's some yogurt and fruit in the fridge? And I'll probably turn on the Boston Pops at some point.... (Wow, this sounds even sadder when I type it out. But at least I'll be writing. That's good, right?)

  7. Hank, I almost bought sparklers for the kids last night. Maybe I can still run out. However, it's raining, so they might not want to use them. I had sparklers as a kid, but then NYS make it all illegal. Not so in PA.

    We used to go to Point State Park to see the big Zambelli fireworks display in Pittsburgh, but I don't do well in crowds any longer and the husband hates them. So does The Girl. But it is a great display. One of the local radio stations coordinates music as they go on. Now it's a quiet picnic at home and we go down the street to watch the fireworks from one of the local golf clubs (it's on a hill, so we get a pretty good view). We are actually getting together with neighbors this year and it has been requested that I bring bbq ribs again.

    3-4lbs of ribs
    1 cup ketchup
    1 cup vinegar
    1/2 cup dark corn syrup
    2 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp onion powder
    1/4 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 tsp tabasco

    Combine all ingredients in a pot; heat until boiling. Simmer 30 minutes or until thick.

    Slather sauce on ribs, reserving some for later. Wrap ribs in foil and cook for 2-2 1/2 hours in the oven at 300 degrees (you can go longer to make them even more tender).

    Carefully remove ribs from foil (there will be a lot of juice). Transfer to hot grill. Coat with remaining sauce and grill for 3-4 minutes per side. We cut into portions of 3-4 ribs for serving.

  8. When I was young the standard for the 4th was fresh peas from the garden - most people had one then - and salmon.
    I am going to try those recipes though.

  9. SO delicious! I am truing to get the family to read the declaration of INdependence out loud…I do it every year, and cry.

    Happy 4th everyone!

  10. Starving after reading all those recipes, and craving stuffed eggs. Go figure. We had a traditional 4th growing up, sparklers, fireworks at the park, my parents would bring huge woolen blankets for us to sit on, I remember they had a Stewart plaid pattern (or maybe it was red and green buffalo check) and we kids avoided them like the plague because they itched. We lived on a river in those days, and some kids always managed to get ash cans - fireworks that explode under water - and we loved those. Somehow we all escaped childhood with ten fingers, but I don't recommend anyone playing with the ordinance! This year will be quiet for us, the day by the pool, smoked sausages on the grill and sides of potato salad. No sparklers, or fireworks, although you can buy them in Florida.

  11. Fireworks that explode underwater, Kait? Really?? You have to explain.

    Gram, fresh peas are such a treat now and SO expensive.

    Mary, the spareribs we had growing up were a lot like that. I made them a few weeks ago and they were decadent. (I hate crowds, too. Absolutely hate them.)

    Susan, hope you get LOTS of pages written and the cook yourself something special that no one else in your family eats.

  12. Happy 4th! The 4th of July was my mom's birthday so she always told us the fireworks and celebration were for her. When we were young my uncle would drive from Indiana to Kentucky for some fireworks :-) . We lived on a few acres so had our very own fireworks show. Today my next door neighbor would call the police, but then our neighbors enjoyed the show. Big picnic on that day.

    Funny, noticing in comments how as we grow older we want to watch the fireworks "from" somewhere, not be in the middle of the crowd. Used to take grandkids down to the Delta to watch the fireworks display off floats in the river. Now we watch on TV.

  13. No picnic, but lazy morning breakfast--red-white-and-blue french toast with thick-sliced bacon. No recipe, I just made it up as I went along--some stuffed with cream cheese for the white part, mixed berries over it all for red and blue. Later tonight, find a spot along the backroads to watch the spectacular fireworks at the local raceway. You'll pass pickup trucks parked along the road, a blanket spread in the back for the littlest ones--for those of us who like the show, but not the noise or crowds.

  14. Happy 4th, everyone! I fought the parade crowds in downtown McKinney to go to the farmer's market this morning, but that means I started my day with fab coffee from the coffee stall and an almond croissant from the bakery stall. My once a week binge--so yummy! And bought loads of beautiful stuff, including enough blueberries to make Hallie's blueberry pie!!! (Assuming I don't eat half of them first...) And the most wonderful little heirloom tomatoes I've ever tasted from a mom-and-pop farm in Farmersville, Texas. Can you beat that? And I got corn for the grill.

    Rhys, give us your pepper jelly recipe! Pepper jelly in stuffed eggs sound so interesting.

    Love everyone's recipes. Susan, but get yourself something nice to eat, have a glass of wine, and watch the Pops tonight. Make it a pamper-yourself treat.
    PS Lucy my hubby might actually eat YOUR potato salad.

  15. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

    I've been so behind the ball I just now added to the front page blog; a little bit about our wonderful Portland Symphony Orchestra and their Stars and Stripes Spectacular tonight on the Eastern Prom.

    Also, my recipe for Asian Slaw which, I have just discovered, I don't have enough Napa cabbage for! Luckily, I live next door to an organic produce farm, and yes, I put that in so you all would feel jealous of me.

  16. All of your recipes and gatherings sound wonderful! I thought sparklers were great when I was a kid, not so much now. In fact, as Grandma Cootie noted, as we get older, there's way less of a desire to be in the middle of the action on the Fourth. Susan, I will be by myself tonight, too, and I plan to watch the celebration from D.C. on television. I am hankering for the traditional hotdog or hamburger for supper, so I'll probably give myself that treat. Wine sounds good, too. If my husband were home, we'd grill out, but we wouldn't go down to the river for fireworks. I can see some from my house. I did enjoy taking the kids when they were growing up.

    My go-to dish for taking to warm weather gatherings is baked beans. I take a large dish, usually a 9 x12 dish. I use two large cans of Van Camp Pork and Beas and another half of one, or a small one. I drain the cans and pick out the few bits of pork fat. Empty the drained beans into the dish, and here's where practice makes perfect. You add in light colored brown sugar, from two to three heaping tablespoons (I use a silverware spoon, not a measuring spoon) and squirt in some ketsup (a good swirl). Mix the brown sugar and ketchup into the beans. Top with uncooked bacon strips--don't overlap. Cook in oven at 400-425 for an hour, or until not runny. Sometimes it takes a few extra minutes. After done, I wrap the dish in aluminium foi and a large towel. They stay warm for quite some time like this. Everyone in my family, immediate and extended,I've my baked beans. You could easily m.ake less or more of them. I've made these for so long that I don't really have a recipe.

  17. Thanks, guys. What we usually do on the 4th late at night is watch 1776 — the musical with Blythe Danner and William Daniels -- maybe we can do that with telephone speakerphone.... Not much writing done today, but I took a nap to end all naps -- amazing how well one can sleep when there's so one around to say, "Mooooooom!" or "Um, honey?" Hmm, and I think there's a bottle of fizz in the fridge....

  18. I'll be trying the Napa cabbage slaw . . . and plan to cook pork steak with fennel from my CSA. Happy 4th! Stay safe!

  19. . . . and I have 1776 on DVD, too ;-)

  20. The only Fourth of July celebrations I remember clearly were in Salem and Marblehead. In Salem we went swimming and picnicked at The Willows. When in Marblehead we dug roasting pits on an island just off shore in the Harbor. The kids collected fresh seaweed. The adults lined the pit with it while it was still wet. Then they layered it with the lobster, clams, and corn. It was the kids' job to check the tides to be sure we could get home. We always had melon fruit salad served in a whole watermelon shell with its cap placed back on top.

    When we moved to Boston most of my cousins went to the Cape where the family has a cottage in Hyannis. My father was a merchant seaman trying to be Joseph Conrad then. Mother and I were never a part of the Cape celebrations.

    In later years, as an adult, we were all about the Hatch Shell and The Pops. I seem to recall Hank reading the Constitution at Faneuil Hall? Fourth or not it was a great thing.

  21. We live outside city limits so our subdivision is ground zero for people putting off their own fireworks and they mean serious business. Mortars like you wouldn't believe. My poor Shepherd/Akita is afraid of loud noises like thunder so the 4th is just horrible for him. I give him vet-prescription anti-anxiety pills but it doesn't really help so I spend the holiday in the bedroom with white noise and music going until 1 a.m. with both dogs (because Ryker gets attention being scared so Coda copies him). I haven't seen actual fireworks in four years. :)