When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant park parties, slip ‘n slides, watermelon, grilling out, fireworks, and playing outside all day long. As I’ve gotten older, I look back on those days with fondness, and am still trying to decide on traditions I want to carry throughout my life. It seems to me that celebrating freedom must also include being aware of our own freedoms and working to extend that to others. As Nelson Mandela so beautifully said: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” So when we celebrate freedom and independence what does that truly mean? We celebrate our own freedom as well as our ability to help those who do not have what we have, we celebrate the beautiful land in which we live, we celebrate the abundance it provides, we celebrate the community we are a part of, and I’m sure we each have our own specific freedoms we celebrate each year. Our country is not just an abstract idea that was born in 1776, but it is our neighborhood, our family, our food, our rivers, and the list goes on. This is a day to remember the beauty we live among, to remember what others have done for us and what we can do for others, to recognize and appreciate how truly lucky we are and to not take that for granted. We have not gotten here alone. So when we celebrate, we feast, and we are lucky enough to live in an area where so much delicious food is in season! What better way to celebrate our home than to eat the food it provides?
The Fourth is a day for grilling out – an area of cooking I enjoy but know very little about, so I’ll leave that part up to you. I’m sure you have your favorite recipe for brats or chicken or burgers, but what is Fourth of July without the sides? I experimented a little bit this weekend with some delicious sides that will brighten up your holiday.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
Roast the corn in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes in the husk. Shuck the corn, cut it off the cob, and add all the other ingredients. Season to your desired taste and let chill in the refrigerator.
Squash and Quinoa Fritters
These fritters are delicious on their own as a side or snack or you can stack your choice of grilled meat on top of them. I put pan-fried salmon on top with a bechamel sauce, but any grilled meat would be delicious—even a burger for those who don’t want to eat a bun!
2/3 cup flour (for gluten free version, use multi-purpose gluten-free King Arthur flour)
2 cups yellow squash, grated
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup fresh spinach, finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 green onions, chopped
dollop of sour cream or Greek Yogurt
Mix all the ingredients together very well in a mixing bowl. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet until very hot. Drop a spoonful of fritter mixture into the skillet, use a spatula to flatten and round out the fritter, and allow it to cook and brown on the bottom. Once the bottom is crispy enough, flip the fritter and cook the other side. Take off heat and add salt if needed.
Note: Fritters are all about texture, if the first one doesn’t quite stay together or sticks to the pan, don’t be afraid to add a little more moisture or a little more flour. Fritters are similar to pancakes in that the first few are the ugliest until you figure out the right consistency and cook time. Don’t be discouraged! They’re worth it, I promise.
The recipe I adapted this from calls for spaghetti squash, but I used grated yellow squash. You can really use any vegetable you can grate: zucchini, beets, potatoes, carrots, etc. Experiment away!
Blueberry Lemonade Cooler
What is the Fourth of July without lemonade? But even better, lemonade complimented with local blueberries and mint? One of our customers, Treisha Hall, is a local chef, and she came up with this amazing recipe to feature our blueberries and mint in a delightful, refreshing way.
1 cup fresh blueberries
20 fresh mint leaves
1 (12 ounce) can frozen concentrated lemonade
4 cups Sprite
1 lemon, sliced
For all the adults out there, this drink would be especially delicious spiked with gin or vodka. Enjoy (and drink responsibly)!