Happy Independence Day to all my readers and friends in the USA. I love celebrating the 4th, not only because it’s a wonderful holiday but also because it’s my father’s birthday. Today he turns 88 and he’s a Yankee Doodle Dandy who is still going strong. Happy birthday, Dad! I hope you have many more wonderful birthdays yet to come.
Even though I’m usually in Canada for the 4th, I still hold a keen appreciation for why this is such a special day for Americans. And how could I not? I grew up in Haddonfield – a lovely small town steeped in Colonial history – which is only a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. For a bit of history about the first Independence Day, I suggest you pop over to The Two Nerdy History Girls blog and check out Susan Holloway Scott’s account about the events surrounding the newly signed Declaration of Independence. Very interesting stuff!
Like most Americans, I like to celebrate the holiday with family and friends and good food. Here are two special holiday recipes straight from my Mom’s recipe box. She served them at many a picnic on hot summer days in our backyard. I still love them, and I hope you do to!
FLORA’S MACARONI SALAD
This salad has a secret ingredient – juice from the olive jar! Don’t skip this step. The salad won’t taste right without it.
- 4 cups cooked macaroni (Flora used elbow macaroni for this recipe)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped green olives stuffed with pimento (if you really like olives, feel free to add more. And buy good olives)
- 1 cup mayo (plus extra, to finish)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (optional)
- Juice from the olive jar
- 2tsp good vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the olives, the mayo, the onion, and the vinegar. Carefully pour juice from the olive jar into the mayo mixture, enough to thin it into a dressing that will coat the macaroni – without being too thick (not too precise, but that’s how Flora did it). If the dressing is too thin, add a little more mayo. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and mix carefully. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. After several hours, the macaroni will have absorbed a lot of the dressing. You can thin a bit more mayo with olive juice, and mix it in the salad to moisten it up before serving.
BURNT ALMOND PARFAIT
I have no idea where my mom got this recipe, but I thought it was incredibly sophisticated when I was a kid. Simple but delicious.
Spread one cup of shelled almonds, unskinned, on a baking sheet and roast in a 300F oven until dark brown. Check frequently to make sure they don’t get scorched. Remove from oven and let them cool, then put through the fine blade of a food processor or blender. They should be ground fine without being pulverized into dust. Mix the almonds with enough good maple syrup to make a thick sauce. Arrange alternate layers of vanilla ice cream with the almond sauce in parfait glasses. Put in freezer until ready to serve, and then garnish with whipped cream and a cherry.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July! If you have a chance, drop by and tell me how you’re celebrating this wonderful holiday.