Shades of red, white and blue

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, means different things to different people. In addition to the significance of the day and diverse interpretations, it is a holiday and a time for family and friends to gather together with a big emphasis on food.

Susan's Flag

Yesterday Google Doodle featured an interactive map with recipes for popular regional and state dishes. It stated, “The 4th of July is the USA’s most scrumptious summer celebration: a time when friends and family get together to celebrate the nation’s independence by cooking, boiling, frying, baking, grilling, or blackening their favorite regional dishes.”

The most searched recipe in New Hampshire was Apple Crisp, “a classic New England dessert.” We love apple crisp but for us that  dish is one we enjoy during apple season when the juicy fruit is picked fresh from local trees. For our gathering, we chose the fruit ripening on trees now: Cherries!

cherry pie

I can remember a few years ago that everyone seemed to have a red, white and blue border of annuals to show their patriotism on the Fourth. Our master gardener group in Virginia planned and planted for it in our community.  Even though I don’t plant one now, it was fun yesterday to spot shades of red, white and blue scattered here and there around the home.




Beyond the red, white and blue, the backyard barbecues, and fireworks, the Fourth is an opportunity to pause and reflect on what it means to be an American, an American of any color or creed in these turbulent times and what the future of our country may be. My wish is for all to have a meaningful way to celebrate the day.

Independence Day, my way….

Happy Fourth of July!

Old Glory is flying here under sunny skies… perfect for an Independence Day family gathering as we celebrate the birthday of our country.

flagI’m busy with preparations in the kitchen for our picnic featuring pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, baked beans, salads….. and always for our grand finale….. homemade peach ice cream.

What recipe do you use for BBQ pork sandwiches? I was raised in the South so that can mean many regional varieties of sauces for pulled pork. In the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, they often add a little smoke. Other recipes are heavy on tomatoes. I’m from the coast of Virginia closer to the North Carolina border and was raised on a vinegar based sauce. No Worcestershire sauce, no Coca-Cola, no Tabasco, no steak sauce, no tomato sauce or mustard. I could get a bit of a backlash from pulled pork sandwich lovers from other locations but this works for my family.

The sauce is vinegary, sweet, spicy hot. Tender pork piled high on a soft bun topped with a kick of coleslaw and I hear music with the first bite. Close my eyes and I’m 10 years old again, barefoot and in my bathing suit, sitting at a picnic table at our summer home on the Chesapeake. In the background I can see my father hand cranking the ice cream we’ll soon enjoy…. always peach, his favorite. Maybe I’ll get to lick the dasher this time… but maybe not. With 7 kids in the family, I’m lucky to get a finger in there for a taste.


Today I hope to create some of those memories for the youngest of my family.

Hope y’all have a fabulous Fourth of July wherever you are!