Summer is half gone and the Fourth of July is here! Let’s hang our flags, remember our nation’s heritage and share food with family and friends.
When I first pondered writing this week’s column, I thought of the importance of flying flags. However, I had just written on that topic in June for Flag Day. Then, I thought about writing how the colonies, which eventually became the United States of America, originally declared independence on July 2, 1776, two days before the written Declaration of Independence was officially approved. I set aside both those thoughts as I decided to write about gathering with family and friends to share food.
My husband, Mark, reminded me of a tip from the late Bess Robbins of the Basin Community, wife of the late Clint Robbins, known for his carpentry skills. She had grown up in Vinegar Bend, Ala., and moved to George County after marriage. She worked many years in cafeterias for the George County School District. Mr. Robbins worked at GCSD as Maintenance Supervisor. After he retired from that position he carpentered for numerous private clients, including Mark and me. Mark has always liked grilling on the Fourth of July and is especially good at burgers. Mrs. Robbins gave us a tip three decades ago to add chopped onion and chopped peppers to the hamburger meat during preparation and patting for the grill. Her suggestion makes a delicious burger indeed!
Whether you are grilling burgers with or without peppers and onions, below are a patriotic dessert and a tasty side dish to accompany your meal for Independence Day gatherings. Both are chockful of red, white, and blue. Bon Appetit!
Sour Cream Flag Cake Recipe
From Southern Living Magazine
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Vanilla-Sour Cream Frosting:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Fresh strawberries
- Fresh blueberries
- Coarse white sanding sugar (optional)
Step 1 – Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350˚. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Step 2 – In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla. On low speed, beat in half the dry ingredients, just until combined. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, taking care not to overbeat the batter.
Step 3 – Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for 25to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Step 4 (the frosting) – In a stand mixer, or with a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter and half the powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the sour cream until smooth, and then beat in the remaining powdered sugar until the frosting is thick and spreadable. Fold in the vanilla.
Step 5 – Spread half the frosting over the cooled cake, making sure it is very smooth. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the remaining frosting.
Step 6 – Fill the upper left-hand corner with a 5-inch square of blueberries to represent the star section of the flag. Use sliced strawberries to create the red stripes of the flag. Place two rows of strawberries. Pipe a shell border of frosting underneath the strawberries. Continue, alternating the double row of berries with a single shell border of frosting until the flag is complete.
Step 7 – Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut and serve straight from the pan.
Watermelon Feta Flag Salad
From Taste of Home
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- 6 cups fresh arugula
- 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
- 5 cups cubed watermelon (with seeds removed)
- 1 pkg (8 oz.) feta cheese cut into ½ in. cubes
Step 1 – Make vinaigrette by whisking the first six ingredients in oil gradually until blended. Stir in onion.
Step 2 – In a large bowl, lightly toss arugula with ¼ cup vinaigrette. Arrange evenly in a large rectangular serving dish.
Step 3 – For starts, place blueberries over arugula at the top left corner. For stripes, arrange watermelon and cheese in alternating rows. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Serve immediately.