Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Staying Out After the Streetlights Come On

     Yesterday was the 4th of July, a national holiday centered around the independence of amassing and thus, the detonation of many colorful creative explosives. This party was three days in the making, and if we include the trip to the TNT fireworks store last week, we are at a full week and the last three days.

     A little secret about Paige, or maybe you already know this, I live with three boys, one is 54(my husband), a 15 year old and a 9 year old. They all have a fixation with explosives. As you can imagine, my trip to the TNT fireworks store was uneventful, to say the least.   I am not knocking the explosives scene, I am just saying, if you have seen one firework store, you have seen them all. I was being the casual observer, noticing that every single male in the store was glassy-eyed, overwhelmed and wondering if they brought enough cash? 

    
      So as if one lighter was not enough, we now have four lighters, in case by some freak of nature, the other three lighters decide to stop working. Keeping them out of the stockpile has been nothing short of a miracle. Every night the big red bag would call out to them "Go ahead, nobody is looking". If I had a nickle for every time they stuck their head in that bag, I would be a rich.

    This year, I took pictures of my Americana in Vermont, and I captured some genuine patriotism.  In years past, we have went to the parade, and did the yada, yada. But crowds these days scare me. Too many people stuffed in an area that could use a little bit more room. So we opted instead to enjoy a quiet 4th, awaiting sundown and the green light to start blowing things up. 

   Yesterday, was very hazy, hot and humid, further adding to the less is more rule. Although, I would have loved to have dove into an ice cold pool, sharing that experience with a gazillion bouncy sugared- up kids was more work that it was worth.
    
Brattleboro is not a big town to begin with, now add a holiday, a pool, kids, parents, vendors, a parking lot, lots of cars, wall to wall people, including tourists, softballs, baseballs, loud car stereos with too much bass, a couple of over-stimulated toddlers having melt downs, and then put all of that on a head of a pin, and you will have the 4th of July at Memorial Park. Some of us think, well "I will get there early", or "I will park far from the crowds". No matter what recipe you use to get in and out of the organized chaos you still will get home at 11pm.

      This is why when my boys start getting the itch to purchase explosives around the last week in June. I must let them go, because a couple hundred fireworks will always beat 500 sardines crammed in a keyhole, I am just saying, I know my limitations.

     This year, I made the kind of cake that nobody wants to admit to making. The corny flag cake adorned with strawberries, blueberries and my personal favorite Cool Whip.

      I am a Chef, and I have seen some cool things during my career. But the last thing I want to be doing on the 4th of July, is making anything that costs too much to make and nobody will eat. I don't care how highly developed your palate is, or how high you can garnish your plate, or on what continent you got your ingredients from. We all started out as kids, even Bobby Flay. We liked ketchup on our hotdogs, tartar sauce on our fishsticks, peanut butter on our celery, the crusts cut off of our sandwiches and most importantly, a cake made from a box with Cool Whip and fresh fruit, that Mom decorated like a flag, just for us.


4th of July Flag Cake (courtesy of Cool Whip and Pillsbury)

box of funfetti Stars and Stripes cake mix
1 disposable 13x9 pan
1 tub of Extra Creamy Cool Whip
1 pint of fresh strawberries (any local berries will do)
1 pint of fresh blueberries

Prepare the cake according to the package directions and pour into the 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 for 32 minutes. When completely cool, frost with entire tub of Cool Whip and decorate like a flag. Chill and enjoy with a big glass of milk.


You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck






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