Fourth of July Picnic-Type FoodHappy Fourth!  It’s a fun time of year and the focus on good food, cooked out-of-doors, usually on a grill, is at its peak.  But, what usually makes any day special, is the joining of friends and family, around a table, with great food, just plain good fun and laughter.  Plenty of laughter….And this year is no exception.  We started our celebration early, with family and friends…very gracious, warm and truly wonderful friends, who opened their home and hearts to us.  They ordered up the perfect day…they have that sort of power.  Hey, we hang with some pretty extraordinary people!

Since this blog tends to focus on food, that’s what we’re going to focus on.  The LakeWe spent the day by a lovely lake, with the aforementioned great people and beautiful weather.  And you know, being around water, in water and on water just always seems to increase one’s appetite.  Does that happen to you?  The Goddess and The Latin Lover always seem to find this so.  And with this group, we always, always, always have great food and good fun.

Here’s what we enjoyed…and I do mean enjoyed.  It was heavenly.  One of our favorite couples supplied the pulled pork and cole slaw.  Mango-Pineapple Injected Pulled PorkThe pork shoulder, was heaven on a bun.  Sadly, this picture is terrible, but the meat was absolutely delicious.  The Giants Fan injected the pork shoulder (bone-in, of course) with his own magical elixir, which included mango and pineapple juices, some spices and other good things.  Then a dry rub and a rest in the fridge for a day or two.  He smoked the meat for about 12 hours, and it was perfection.  Not too smokey, and still moist and meltingly tender.  He even made his own BBQ sauce!  He tells me he’ll share the recipe….Giant Fan 2’s cole slaw was yummy and a perfect foil for the pork.  Potato SaladThe Gardening Engineer made his famous potato salad, all creamy and eggy deliciousness.  His pork and beans, loaded with bacon, are always a hit.  The Eldest Progeny piled them on a bun with the pulled pork, which he felt was lip-smackingly delicious.  I wish I’d thought of that!  SangriaThe Sangria Queen made her signature drink.  And because she’s a resourceful little minx, she found a video on how to make Hot Dog SparklersHot Dog Sparklers, which seemed the perfect way to honor of the Fourth!  You can find the recipe/video here, over at TipHero’s website. They were fun and delicious.  Hot Dog SparklersWe made the “sparkler” ends a bit more exaggerated than the website shows, because our quality control person (read The Sangria Queen here!!) led us astray and said that’s how they should be!  The pastry is from pizza-in-a-tube (you know about these).  We had leftover pastry, but more about that later.  But, they worked and were fun.  We used American cheese, but firmer marble cheese, as shown in the video, would work better.  We also found baking the “sparklers” at 425°F worked much better than baking them at 350°F as the original recipe suggested; it just wasn’t a hot enough oven.  The hotter oven allowed the ends to splay out better, too.  Next time we’ll cut the pizza dough a bit thicker (and there will be a next time, as these were just fun!).  And what would the Fourth be without sweet corn and watermelon?

This is the fun part of cooking and cooking with friends is fun.  The trial and error, and of course, taste testing!  Cheesy Pizza BitesAs I mentioned, we had some leftover pizza dough, so we put some of the extra bits of American cheese on the strips of dough, thinly sliced red onion and a few bits of fresh rosemary.  Cheesy Pizza BitesWe baked them up…it was a little something to nibble on while we waited for the Hot Dogs to Sparkle!  I think it’s safe to conclude, a good time was had by all.

The LakeIt was truly a wonderfully relaxing day, filled with good friends, family and terrific food.  The kind of day that makes memories, reminds one of good times past, with a nod to the future.  The kind of day that fosters the appreciation of the people who come and go and come back into our lives.  That’s the real celebration, isn’t it?  We continue to be blessed.  Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, dear people.