Most days lately involve me being somewhere other than here. Today, however, I am taking a respite from looky loo prospective buyers exploring the depths of my lingerie drawers, basically relaxing, and indulging in my favorite pastime, cooking. In anticipation of such a nice day I found myself humming as I loaded the dishwasher and feeling in exceptional harmony with the world.
I heard a commentator on the radio the other day speaking to the subject of “Morning People versus Night Owls”. It was interesting to note that humans who thrive when the rooster has just crowed to beckon the dawn, are, according to this particular study, in general healthier, more motivated, and less likely to be depressed. It seems that those of us who start their engines earlier than the average bear tend to get more accomplished in a day and have a sunnier outlook on the world. That is encouraging. Finally, I am doing something right. Smile.
Even though my plans aren’t focused outside of the the house today, I have a lot on my plate (excuse the cooking pun). Another holiday is lingering on the next page of the calendar. Although not doing anything in particular, I feel the holiday spirit, and in preparation will be culinarily indisposed for a good portion of the afternoon. Rick and I have been harboring a serious craving for beef wellington. Not the usual Fourth of July fare, but nonetheless fabulous at any time, so we’re going for it. On the day itself I will have to have one of my cajun burgers with a big slab of cheese, seated on the plate next to a generous side of potato salad, and some of these incredibly crunchy and delicious onion rings. It’s sort of a tradition that always causes my clogged arteries to stand up and proudly salute. I have a new recipe for a tangy dill pickle potato salad that I will share sometime over the weekend. A nice variation on an old favorite.
For us at the lake, the Fourth of July brings with it lots of traffic and hordes of people. By late afternoon they can be seen swarming up the hill like ants on a sugar cube vying for the best location to provide them a birds eye view of the festivities planned over the water once the sun has gone done beyond the ridge. As darkness approaches, blinking running lights become visible on the lake as boats begin to line up to watch the fireworks. On the hill above the dam celebrators will have unfolded lawn chairs, applied insect repellant and oft frequented their coolers in preparation.
Our house is on the lake side of the hill slightly around the bend from viewing level. We either visit friends who overlook the dam, walk up the hill, or stay at home and listen to the popping from the comfort of our deck.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, we obviously did not celebrate the fourth, as it is as American as mechanical bulls and fortune cookies (purportedly invented by a Japanese American in San Francisco in the late 1980’s). Instead Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1st in much the same manner. Plaid picnic blankets are laid down on grassy slopes. Baskets and coolers are filled with potato salad, deviled eggs, and chilled watermelon. The end of day, much as in the states, is punctuated by fireworks lighting up the night with brilliant light displays.
My grandparents were members of the Waegwaltic Club in Halifax. I loved it there. It was a glorious place to find yourself as a child with summer laid out before you. Lunch bag in hand, I often did. Located on the northwest arm, dominating the landscape of the club was the huge white clubhouse. It was the place to go for a double scoop cone or to enjoy lunch or dinner overlooking the northwest arm. For me it was a safe haven offering up swimming, boating, and tennis as the highlighted items on the staff’s agenda. I learned to swim there, and went for my first canoe ride. The Waeg was a place to send your kids on without fear of anything happening to them much more serious than a bee sting and providing them with summertime entertainment on the water in a glorious setting.
On Canada Day we piled into my granddaddy’s Buick and headed for Waeg. It was one of the rare times when I saw my grandfather, a doctor from an era whose idea of casual attire was donning a smoking jacket over dress slacks, relaxed and casual. Finding him seated on the ground, or reclining supported by his elbows on a blanket was always a phenomenon for me.
Canadian or not, the fourth did not pass unacknowledged in our house. It happened my grandmother took her first breath on that very day. Strawberry shortcake being her dessert of choice, my mother always donned her apron and made a delicious batch, placing a lit candle in the center to honor my grandmother. Gone now, my grandmother is always in our thoughts on this day, as she is on so many others.
I have found myself at many celebrations over the years, most punctuated with fireworks soaring into the night sky. In particular I can recall going to A’s Stadium in Oakland, California with my young family to enjoy the game and the fireworks following. Lights off in the stadium the whoosh of the first explosives shooting upward were quickly followed by the loud concussions. Streams of colors spiralled down over our heads seeming to almost explode before our eyes. Looking at the faces of the three young children seated next to me, eyes wide in wonder, made that night a particularly special memory for me.
Hope you have a safe and fun packed holiday. I’ll be checking in with a recipe or two.
These onion rounds are crispy, crunchy and delicious dipped in their spicy sauce. A perfect complement to a juicy burger or sticky ribs.
Crispy Onion Rounds
2 large yellow onions, cut into 3/4″ slices
1 cup flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt with parsley
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
extra salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with paper towels.
Slice onions keeping the slices whole (do not separate rings).
Mix flour and seasonings together and place in shallow dish (like pie plate). In second dish beat eggs together. In third dish put panko bread crumbs.
Keeping rings whole, coat first in flour, then dip in egg, and lastly coat in bread crumbs.
Heat 1″ of oil in large skillet. Test by dipping one corner of onion to see if it bubbles. In batches (do not crowd) brown onion rings on both sides until lovely golden brown (about 3 mins. per side).
Place cooked onion rings on paper towel covered cookie sheet and put in oven while other batches cook. Serve with sauce. Serves 4.
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 cup sweet pickle relish
1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix sauce ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hr.