Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Potluck of Freedom

May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! ~Daniel Webster

I really enjoy celebrating Independence Day! I have a feeling it comes from having a family who always made sure that the 4th of July was a day of family, food and, of course, fireworks. I will never forget the taste of my family's fried chicken, potato salad, three-bean salad, and getting to help turn the crank on the White Mountain Ice Cream Maker. It would be worth all the hard work to be the one fortunate enough to be the first to get a taste of Grandpa Aziz's homemade banana ice cream!

As my husband and I have raised our own family, I've taken the helm in the celebrating of our country's freedom. When the kids were younger, it was the pancake breakfast at the fire station and parade in Monmouth, Oregon followed by a potluck dinner at my parents' house. As they've gotten older, we've done a variety of things~ from the Civil War Reenactment at Willamette State Park to picnics with dear family friends at Mission Mill Museum. We've even gone to a Keizer Volcanoes baseball game one year to not only watch our local team, but to also watch a beautiful display of fireworks!

This year, for lunch, we decided to do another picnic at Mission Mill thanks to best friends Ron and Shelly. They brought chicken and fresh Oregon fruit. I was in charge of salad, but didn't have any lettuce or "typical" salad fare. What I did have were all kinds of veggies from our second CSA box, thanks to Gardenripe in Silverton. I had a huge bunch of bok choi along with some broccoli, red cabbage and fresh peas. I also had made a trip to EZ Orchards, our year-round local produce market, to supplement our veggie box with local Walla Walla Onions and a few other treats. I decided to experiment with a cole slaw made with the bok choi and red cabbage as well as a salad made with the broccoli, peas, onions and some bacon added for that smoky flavor and crunch. The highlight for me was a dessert of raspberries that Shelly's mom and dad had brought straight from their garden along with some delicious Umpqua french vanilla ice cream. It brought back memories of that homemade ice cream from my childhood 4th of July potlucks!

The celebrating continued that evening at my folks' house with more potluck goodness. I brought more of my salads since I had made a double batch of each, and my dad did a great job on what he called his "mixed grill" of chicken, polish sausage, hamburgers and Italian sausage. My oldest son, Josh, put together a sandwich that my mom and I both copied as it looked amazing~ Italian sausage, BBQ sauce, and some of my bok choi slaw all on a crusty roll. It tasted as good as it looked! We finished the meal with a trifle I had "thrown" together of lime zest cake, fresh Kotata and Obsidian blackberries, lemon yogurt, whipped cream and shredded mint.

I have often wondered what could top time with friends and family celebrating our country's independence with a potluck, and I found out this year~ the answer would be two potlucks celebrating the 4th of July!!

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