Happy 4th of July to all of you!
For me, this weekend has always meant that summer was half over. I have many memories of July 4th and all of them are surrounded by picnics and food, music and parades an,d to top off the day, fireworks.
During the time I was growing up and all of my adult life, I remember that this was a day for FAMILY and FUN. We’d gather at someone’s house, usually mine, share the most wonderful food and the kids would have a great time together.
As the sun began to set and dusk surrounded us, we would all load into our cars and head off to Wilmington’s historic Denver Williams Park.
We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful facility in our hometown. I played in the park as a small child, had multiple family reunions there, and it was the site for my children’s youth baseball games. I know that most of you have similar memories.
We now had our stomachs full and the kids were tired and what better way to end the evening than to stretch out on a blanket under the stars. When I attended in the ’60s and ’70s we enjoyed music compliments of the community band which was composed of both the old and the young who gathered to share their love of music.
Then at just the right moment the sky would explode with brilliant lights of red, white and blue, followed by the special fireworks that would come with giant ball of lights in the sky, each one more beautiful than before.
My brothers would always wait for the ones with the big BANG at the end, while I held my ears. Each year we would say “that was the best one they have ever had,” referring to the exhibit we had just seen.
Then the bad part — trying to get out of the park along with hundreds of other cars. Sometimes we would be so tired the kids would be asleep before we ever made it home.
As a parent, I could hardly wait until my first child was old enough to go to the park and experience the world of fireworks. To see their eyes light up and their expressions of both surprise and joy was one I will always treasure.
Then when the grandchildren came along and we went to that same park where their parents and I had experienced such fond memories, I again watched their eyes and felt the same love as I had as a child.
I had the pleasure of accompanying my son and his family to Disney World a few years ago and we made a point of going to Epcot for the laser and fireworks exhibit. If you have not seen it before, it is worth the time and money to go to Epcot just for the nighttime light show.
To see so many explosions and lights and spectacles at one time is absolutely breathtaking. The highlight of the entire trip came during the light exhibit when my grandsons turned to me and said, “Thank you Grandma, for the best vacation ever!”
I encourage all of you to make some time in your day on the Fourth to be with your family. Whether it is for a picnic, water outing or a late day visit to the park for this years fireworks exhibit, just have a great time and have a safe holiday.
Today’s recipes are for two of my favorites that I usually served at our 4th of July picnics.
CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CARAMEL ICING
A very rich caramel fudge icing which accents the chocolate cake. This is a recipe that I get great comments on when I take it anywhere. It is not hard, but takes a little practice in the mixing.
I want to be honest by telling you that I have tried several cake recipes and I can not duplicate the end result of a prepackaged mixed cake. I usually use Pillsbury or Betty Crocker (Pudding type) Chocolate or Fudge Cake Mix. Prepare according to the package. Bake in 11” x 14” baking pan. Cool.
1 1/2 sticks real butter
2 cups brown sugar (I like dark brown but light works too.)
1/2 cup Half and Half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Melt butter in large heavy saucepan, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and then add brown sugar and Half and Half and stir until mixed well. Return to heat and cook until mixture boils and then boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes, without stirring. With mixer, beat on low for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and continue to beat. Gradually beat mixture adding 1 teaspoon powdered sugar until mixture gets thick but still pourable. (Consistency of thick cake batter.) Quickly pour icing onto cake and spread to edges.
This icing will set up quickly so don’t over beat or over mix. You actually want to pour on icing and let it run onto cake some as you spread
ORANGE CHICKEN ROLLS
This is an easy recipe that has a great flavor and is great to take along on a picnic or to a “carry-in”.
1 ½ stick butter
1 ½ pkg onion soup mix
¾ jar (18 oz.) orange marmalade
1 box Pepperidge Farm Stuffing
1 small onion (chopped)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
6-8 small boneless chicken breasts
Melt butter and stir in soup mix and marmalade, stirring until marmalade is melted. Set aside.
Prepare stuffing using chicken broth for the liquid called for in the recipe on the package. Pound chicken breast until flattened. Place spoonful of stuffing on chicken and roll up. Fasten chicken roll with a toothpick.
(Divide remaining stuffing mixture evenly among the chicken breasts.) Place in greased baking dish. Pour butter mixture over the chicken. Place foil over dish and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and sauce bubbling and chicken is no longer pink.
Have a great Fourth and see you next week. — Sheryl
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.