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Old 07-04-2007, 01:21 PM   #1
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4th of July Feasts

The 4th of July for our family during my teen years was one of those "gathering" days. Somebody would go get the Grandmas, cousins you didn't know you had would show up, aunts and uncles along with anyone's friends who were hanging out for the day would converge on the lake cabin my parents had near Dowagiac. The festivities started the weekend before the 4th and carry-on until the day after.

Starting early in the morning every day, people would grab a fishing pole from the bundle on the porch (mostly the old timey long bamboo poles with the extra line wound around the handle with bits of cork for bobbers), grab a cup full of worms from the bait frame (a big box full of compost soil next to the porch), and a stringer (an old boot lace with a bit of tin from an old can wrapped around on end and a loop tied in the other end - fish were strung on this by threading the metal end through the gills then through the circle). By rowboat load or singly along the lake's edge or from the dock - folks were fishing. Everything caught was brought in scaled, gutted, brined and rinsed. Everything caught before July 3 was frozen. We would keep track of how many each caught for the bragging rights of "fisherman of the summer".

Most every day fishing stopped at noon and swimming and games began. Marco-Polo, Greased Pig, rowboat races, casting contests, stone skipping - you name it we played it! The older folks played cards in the shade. Lunch and dinner were eat where you stand. In the evenings the men and older boys took to fishing in the lake again - mostly to troll for bass or get some catfish.

July 3, the frozen fish were brought out to thaw, and the day's catch was brined and put in the fridge. By then most everyone was there - a small tent city surrounded the cabin and inside there were people sleeping on almost every square inch of floor space. A bushel or two of corn was de-silked and most of the outter shuck removed. The corn was put into big buckets of water to soak overnight.

The morning of July 4 was always the lake's volunteer fire department's benefit breakfast - all the pancakes, sausage and bacon you could eat. Some years close to 50 of our family members trudged up the hill for the "Big Breakfast".

Dinner on the 4th came early so after breakfast it was time to fire up the big grills. We'd have grilled corn on the cob, fried pan fish (perch, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and rock bass), grilled catfish, sweet cornbread (made with maple syrup), "wet" cornbread (made with creamstyle corn), cheddar biscuits, cold "bean bean" salad (so called because it was -just- green beans and kidney beans in vinegar and oil dressing), refrigerator pickles, hot potato salad, fresh veggies, fresh fruit and dessert was always a no-bake cheese cake made in sheet cake pans with the topping arranged to look like a flag (blueberry and cherry pie filling).

After the cleaning up, someone would set the ice cream churns up and we'd all take turns cranking them. The ice cream would go into the freezer for "curing" just about the time the fireworks over the lake would start. After the fireworks, bowls of ice cream all around and the next day folks would start leaving for home.

Got any family 4th of July traditions to share? Some heirloom recipes?
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:28 AM   #2
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BTW, that sounds Wonderful!

We're usually struggling to make the parade at 10 AM and it's usually catch as catch can for dinner.

However this year I took off from my kids and went up to Montana to visit the inlaws. On the 4th we went to Arlee powwow/rodeo and watched the Snake dance and Veteran's memorial.

There was all kinds of stands, but I was feeling woozy and needed some Asian noodles for comfort food. So me and the inlaws had lo mein, chicken teriaki, egg rolls and some other stuff that was actually quite good.

My honey had a Jesse James burger with ham, bacon, cheese and a double patty. I hungered for one all weekend after that. They even served huckleberry butter with their frybread! YUMM! Followed by a fruit smoothie.

Luckily we found some chuck steak on sale and bought SCADS for a cookout that evening. The cooking tips said to marinate and grill it, so that's just what I did. Of course I couldn't find any ingredients in the kitchen, so I just dumped a bottle of vineagrette dressing over the meat to marinate it, then sprinkled on the usual spices (garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, black pepper, and season salt).

I cut some cubes of the tenderest of the chuck and made kabobs. The meat got marinated as above, and the veggies got dunked in the dressing as well. They needed some oil to keep from burning.

Instead of making a nice pattern, meat-veggie-meat-veggie-etc, I put all the meat on the skewer first, then the veggies in order of need of heat to cook, (mushrooms, zucchini, green onions, green, red, and yellow peppers). The meat went over the highest heat, and the end veggies didn't get over done.

We also grilled corn right in the husk. The silk came off so easy after they were done. And for dessert we just dumped some local Flathead cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries in some Cool Whip and that was ready. Delicioso!!

The next day we bought crab and shrimp on sale. Steamed the crab, and scampied the shrimp (saute in butter and garlic salt). Easy and delicious!

Tried to drink wine with our two meals - Chardonnay and White Zinfadel. Everyone liked it, but they were just too dry for me. Annie Green Springs ruined me for life!

Actually there were some wineries around Flathead lake, but I never made it over for their wine tastings. There's probably some wine out there that I would like (other than Boone's farm Sangria) but I can't find it.
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Old 07-09-2007, 02:03 PM   #3
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wyo - if you like wine, try mead! That's wine made out of honey. There is a local winery here that sells mead in regular (which is as sweet as Manischwitz), slightly sweet (they call it "contemporary") and dry. I like the slightly sweet version myself - although I only have a couple of ounces at New Year's... I leave the drinking to folks that can handle it :-)
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:56 PM   #4
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Wow, that sounds different!
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:56 PM   #5
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Wow, that sounds different!
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